The holiday season begins at the Elizabeth Stone House with Halloween. Our initial Halloween party was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy, but we rescheduled and managed to pull off a remarkable event with traditional costumes and games. We moved right into Thanksgiving, catered by ICatering at the Pine Street Inn. Our generous corporate partners Natixis brought volunteers who donned aprons and helped to serve over 100 residents and former residents. The evening included the annual sharing from residents about what they are thankful for this year.
With no time to rest, after Thanksgiving we held our annual gingerbread-making event. Fifteen women and 21 children came together to make their gingerbread dream homes. We’d hardly cleaned up the candy and frosting when it was time to turn our meeting room into Santa’s workshop. It’s a huge undertaking to track inventory and organize gifts for resident families and community families. Staff helped to deliver them to resident apartments, ensuring that gifts made it to the correct homes. We also brought toiletry kits to the men at two neighborhood substance abuse programs.
We were overwhelmed as gifts poured in from Bloomberg and Emerson College, Needham Congregational Church and WHDH, among the many generous donors. We held two “It’s A Wrap” parties, one for volunteers, including Wilderness Heals hikers; WHDH media personality Sarah French, the news anchor from 7NEWS on 7NBC and CW56; and Red Sox pitcher Chris Carpenter, who helped our resident moms wrap their children’s gifts. The second was to wrap gifts for our resident moms. The preliminary count for people served this holiday: 172 adults and 409 children—581 in total!
The holidays are a miraculous time when we suspend disbelief and dare to hope. We have a lot to hope for—a new definition of our work and a new building to make that work possible. But it’s hard sometimes to hope, especially in the aftermath of the devastating event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The parents of 20 small children had to find a way to struggle through the holidays, helping siblings to come to a holiday table where there always will be an empty place.
Thirty years ago on Christmas Eve, my brother, my only sibling, was murdered. My family asked that donations be made to gun control organizations. I believed that somehow we would figure out as a nation how to make our country safer for my children. We did not do that. Now we must. Listening to President Obama speak to the nation about the tragedy, I began to hope again that we would find solutions to make the world safer for my grandchildren, for your children and for children here at Stone House. We were reminded of the importance of community. We recommit to the understanding that together, we can turn tragedy into action for change.
Thank you to everyone that has done so much for our small corner of the world. May your new year be filled with hope.
Nancy Owens Hess
Elizabeth Stone House