Three weeks ago, the Statesman’s Season for Caring program introduced you to a dozen local families who need your help.
Families such as Nicole and Brandon Overton, whose sons have multiple serious medical diagnoses, including a blood disorder and a malformation around the brain. Mounting medical bills mean they have had to put off everything else a young family needs.
Families like Monica Beakley, 47, and her son, Jesse Jakob Estala. Beakley has stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to her brain and intestines. Her son, 19, has a traumatic brain injury from a boat accident 10 years ago that left him blind and developmentally delayed.
And families such as Amina Makamba’s. The 34-year-old immigrant from Congo, on her first day in the U.S., unexpectedly gave birth to triplets instead of the one baby she thought she was carrying. One of her now-3-year-old daughters continues to need medical care.
These families and hundreds just like them are served by local nonprofit organizations that are part of the 21st Statesman Season for Caring program.
In its first three weeks, Season for Caring has raised $403,843 in monetary donations and $96,399 in in-kind donations for a total of $500,242. This came with the help of a $100,000 match from the Sheth family, $10,000 raised from the Driskill Hotel's Cookies for Caring event, $39,227 from P. Terry's Giving Back Day and $25,000 from Whataburger.
The donations this year have been slower than expected, and many of the featured families have the bulk of their wish lists still unmet. Some of their needs are larger as well and will require monetary donations to be fulfilled.
The agencies also rely on Season for Caring funds to help hundreds of other clients throughout the year with basic needs such as housing and utilities, transportation, groceries and medical bills. Season for Caring is their emergency assistance fund, and that fund will be smaller in the coming year without more assistance.
Read the list of items that each family has and see how you can help or make a monetary donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.
The Overtons need help with past medical bills; pest control; an automatic garage door system; a sectional couch; baseball gear for son Mayken, 15; YMCA classes for son Kafry, 5; equestrian therapy and noise-canceling headphones for Saben, 3; diapers and wipes for Greeley, 6 months; and gift cards to H-E-B, Target and Costco. (Any Baby Can, 512-454-3743, anybabycan.org)
Beakley needs an attorney to set up guardianship, a trust fund and long-term care for her son. He needs a therapist specializing in traumatic brain injury as well as assistive devices for those who are visually impaired. They would like to go on local outings that would work for someone who has a visual impairment. They also need a couch with good seating support; hotel gift cards, gas cards and bus tickets for her to go to her checkups at MD Anderson; and gift cards to H-E-B, Natural Grocers or Casa de Luz. (Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757, wondersandworries.org)
Makamba and her daughters need a reliable car, airline tickets to bring her husband and two children to the U.S., twin bed sheets and comforters, area rugs, tuition for Amina, a potty training toilet, preschool tuition, shelves and dressers, a washing machine and dryer, a shoe rack, gift cards for clothing, learning toys, and arts and crafts supplies. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026, foundcom.org)
Alicia Gonzales, 40, who has one semester of nursing school left and is a single mom taking care of her three sons and her mother, who is on dialysis, needs help with her mother’s medical bills, towels, a wheelchair holder for a car, a tall dresser, Wi-Fi services, a lawyer for her divorce, and a family membership to the Georgetown Rec Center. (Capital IDEA, 512-457-8610, capitalidea.org.)
Kevin Moreno, 23, has been taking care of his family since he was 16 and they were close to being homeless. His family needs help with textbooks for brother Dylan, 19, who is at the University of Texas; car repairs; a reliable used car; a desk; gift cards for clothing; living room furniture; storage shelves; a gym membership for the family; a professional organizer; a vacuum cleaner; and a TV stand. His sister Avia, 6, wants a Christmas tree and decorations and ballet classes. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026, foundcom.org)
Eden Welply, 25, who was hit by a car and lost the use of her hands and legs, needs home health care, music therapy, occupational therapy, smart home devices that are voice controlled, Dragon Dictate software, Ableton Sensory Percussion Kit, Lasik, AxioBionics wearable pain management therapy, an 8-foot desk to roll under, a trained service animal, acupuncture, gift cards to entertainment places and restaurants to give her caregivers, fans and a subscription to Audible. (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians-HAAM, 512-541-4226, myhaam.org)
The Hekmati family, which escaped threats in Afghanistan after helping U.S. aide organizations, needs a reliable used car; a job in his chosen career for father Ahmad Kambiz Hekmati, who worked in finances with nonprofits; a blender; a vacuum cleaner; gift cards to H-E-B and Walmart; and help repaying their travel loans. (Interfaith Action of Central Texas at 512-386-9145, interfaithtexas.org)
Fatima Babiker, 33, who came to the U.S. two years ago from Egypt, needs tuition to go to cosmetology school to better support her family as well as a reliable vehicle, help affording a larger apartment, dressers, sheets and comforters, living room furniture, a wireless printer, and dance classes for her daughter. (Caritas of Austin at 512-646-1277, caritasofaustin.org)
The Karim family are Rohingya who fled Myanmar to Thailand and then Malaysia after facing persecution. He needs job training in welding or auto mechanics, living room furniture, a washer and dryer, dressers, a rug, driving lessons, an electric fryer and gift cards to H-E-B, Walmart and Target. (Interfaith Action of Central Texas at 512-386-9145, interfaithtexas.org)
Velma Pace, 84, is caring for her husband, Johnny, 82, who has dementia, and her son Howard, 65, who has intellectual differences. She needs living room furniture, a refrigerator, area rugs, king-sized bedding, blinds or curtains, respite care and gift cards to H-E-B and Walmart. (Meals on Wheels Central Texas, 512-476-6325, mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org)
Catherine Swieter, 65, has Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, kidney failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is on hospice care. Still on their wish list is a food processor, an area rug for her living room, twin bed sheets, Capital Metro Access passes, piano music books, a body pillow and fresh paint for her apartment. (Hospice Austin at 512-342-4700, hospiceaustin.org)
The Jackson family, which moved here from Louisiana after flooding, will have most needs taken care of by Body by Design and Grisham Middle School. The Jacksons need car repairs or a more reliable car. (Communities in Schools, 512-462-177, ciscentraltexas.org)