Client Stories: Courage in the Face of COVID-19

A banner made by Family Center teens a few years ago -with a message that still resonates!


The following stories* of resiliency, collaboration, and hope are made possible thanks to the generosity of donors who have contributed to The Family Center’s COVID-19 Relief campaign.

The Family Center Advocates

Sam had to undergo a leg amputation due to an infection resulting from his diabetes, and now requires a wheelchair. Currently, his apartment and apartment building are completely inaccessible. There is no ramp. Sam is also currently unable to use the shower/ tub in his apartment and must take the extreme risk of traveling on the subway, even now, in order to bathe. He is terrified of being injured and needing to return to a healthcare facility in this COVID-19 crisis.

On Sam’s behalf, The Family Center Legal Wellness Institute filed a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and has been advocating remotely for immediate intervention.  A lawyer from the Commission is currently investigating the complaint and communicating with Sam’s landlord to resolve the issue.  At the same time, LWI has been able to remotely secure approval for Sam’s rental subsidy to transfer to a new apartment, in the event that the necessary accommodations are not able to be made in his current apartment.

The Family Center Connects

Wheelchair-bound, and living with diabetes and HIV, Sylvia receives medication case management services from The Family Center. Her underlying conditions put her at grave risk of contracting Coronavirus. Her devoted 23 year-old daughter lives with her, but is also terrified of going out, lest she put her mother at risk. To make matter worse, her daughter just lost her part-time job. Sylvia called The Family Center and explained that the family’s food supplies were very low. She added that she also needed her refills on all her medications. The Family Center connected this mother-daughter household with several soup kitchen and food pantries that deliver, and also secured refill deliveries of all Sylvia’s critical medications.

The Family Center Cooperates

Family Center staff methodically checked on every single client at the beginning of this COVID-19 outbreak in NYC. (We continue to do this.) One grandmother caregiver raising her 7 year-old granddaughter was frantic with worry. She had just been told to self-quarantine, as doctors suspected she was exposed to COVID-19. Her greatest concern was that her granddaughter did not have a remote learning device. The Family Center quickly made contact with several NYC Department of Education officials and staff. This grandparent-headed family had a remote learning device within 24 hours.

The Family Center Delivers

Jane and her two children are trauma survivors and receive services through The Family Center Brooklyn ACTS program. Recently Jane informed her Family Center clinician that the family had one chicken, a roll of toilet paper, and half a bar of soap to get them through the rest of the week.  In addition to connecting Jane with food pantry resources, The Family Center delivered food and hygiene supplies to the family.

The Family Center Represents

Carmen is living with HIV, as well as other medical conditions. She shares her apartment with her four children. One of her children lives with a disability. For years, Carmen has received a monthly subsidy to assist with her rent. However, her subsidy was recently discontinued. Carmen has been working with The Family Center Legal Wellness Institute to prepare for an upcoming hearing. This rental subsidy allows Carmen to afford an apartment where she can live with, and care for, all of her children, including the disabled child. This subsidy is extremely important to the stability of Carmen’s family, especially in light of the spread of Coronavirus and Carmen’s high risk of contracting it.

The Family Center Restores

Fifteen year-old Orlando has already undergone an organ transplant. Recently, his SSI benefits were terminated by mistake for at least the third time in a row –leaving his family with no income to care for him during this COVID-19 crisis. All the Social Security offices have temporarily closed due to COVID-19, and Orlando’s family could not apply online. The Family Center Legal Wellness Institute secured a phone interview exception for Orlando and got this brave young man’s benefits restored.

The Family Center Supplies

Tina was devastated to find herself and her young son Dante in a homeless shelter during the midst of this COVID-19 crisis. She was even more horrified by the rodents eating her precious food supplies during this time of scarcity. With all the neighborhood laundromats closed, she also could not keep herself and Dante clean. At the end of her rope, Tina reached out to her Family Center Family Net Family Connections caseworker. Within 48 hours, Tina had large plastic bins for safely storing her food. The Family Center also sent a car to take her and Dante to the nearest laundromat.

*Names have been changed to protect client’s identities.