A text like this is a life preserver tossed to Erin Lareau, biological mom of two and foster mom to two, who’s treading waters of homeschooling, all kinds of appointments, and her husband’s recent deployment.
‘There’s lots of activity in our house,’ says Lareau. ‘I would say we’re really good at doing loud; really good at doing a lot of energy almost all of the time.’
Lareau receives help from a volunteer with Families Together, a program that vets, trains, and matches ‘Neighbors’ to help self-identified overwhelmed families. Neighbors provide simple forms of support like monthly meals and check-in calls or cards.
Opening a delivery from their Neighbor, Lareau and her kids are delighted to find a meal and often some simple crafts for the children to work on independently. Thoughtfulness, directness, and reliability impress Lareau each time she interacts with her Neighbor. There’s no ambiguity about the help, no ‘Let me know how I can help.’ or ‘What day and time works best for you?’ And there’s consistently something special for her included, such as a Mother’s Day card and chocolate.
‘She’s gone above and beyond,’ says Lareau about her Neighbor. ‘It’s been a really sweet support to me. It’s more of a support to me than the kiddos.’
That’s in the program’s design, according to Ned Breslin, president and CEO of Tennyson Center for Children, and a Families Together volunteer. He and his wife support a family for date night once a month so the parents ‘can reground and find themselves in their own relationship.’
Families Together resulted from a recent partnership between Tennyson Center, a residential and in-home treatment/service center for kids facing critical circumstances, and Foster Together, a family support and stabilization network. Community-based programs were part of Tennyson Center’s offerings originally, Breslin explains, but folding in Foster Together to create Families Together meant they could offer much more to both organizations’ families.”