Village Voice - June, 2006

A Growing Family

 I first met Ramiro* early last fall.  He came to the Healthy Babies Project with his wife, Juana* and three month old baby, Daniela* looking for baby clothes and furniture. Ramiro and Juana are legal Mexican immigrants.  He is a cook and had a full time job at a busy restaurant in Washington, DC.

A few weeks later I was able to call Ramiro and let him know someone at Village had donated a piece of baby furniture he needed.  He was so excited and couldn’t wait to carry it home to put it together.

Just before Thanksgiving, Ramiro went to work one Monday only to learn his restaurant had burned down the night before.  No one was there, nor had his boss called to tell him.  He was supposed to pick up his paycheck that day. He came to see me again, along with his family, to ask for help with formula, baby diapers and clothes (all donated by Villagers in October). He also took food supplies from our emergency food pantry.  He was careful to take only the amount he would need for a few days. “Someone else might need it more than we do,” he explained.

The family continued to come to our center for community activities, free meals and other things they needed.  Unfortunately, Ramiro was unsuccessful in finding full time work.  He was able to get a day or two here and there, but not enough to sustain his family, whom he clearly adores.  He applied for, and received, food stamps and WIC formula and food supplements from the District.  But Daniela was growing like the proverbial week and often the formula would run out before the next month started.

About late February we ran out of the donated formula and diapers. Ramiro had to find other places to help supplement his family’s needs.  He felt lucky to have more regular work by then, even though his employers often didn’t pay him on time.  Many times he had to call them a week or ten days after his pay was due to get the money owed him.

I hadn’t seen Ramiro and his family for two months, since we were out of what they needed.  Imagine my surprise when they came this week, after I was able to restock the cupboards with the Mother’s Day donations of diapers, formula, baby food, etc.  Daniela now has fat pink cheeks.  At nine months, she is trying to walk, can say a few words, including “Poppi”, Ramiro boasted proudly (grinning from ear to ear).  She smiles at everyone she meets. Her shining black eyes give a hint at the dynamic, intelligent young woman she will grow up to be.  She is certainly a well-loved and cherished child.

Ramiro had good news.  His former restaurant is being rebuilt.  His boss told him he is hoping to reopen in September or October.  Ramiro has a job waiting for him then.  In the meantime, he now has resources closer to home to meet the family’s needs when the paychecks are late or inadequate.  Thank you for helping me support this family and others.  You will never know how much difference your donations make in the lives of people who live on the edge.

*= not their real names

 From:  Mary Brewster, RN/Community Health Nurse
The Healthy Babies Project, Inc.

Happy Father’s Day!

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