New York Times Neediest Cases Story: In a Family Emergency, $204 and Help With Red Tape

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Salena Johnson take care of her two young sons as she looks for work and volunteers at their school:

Last winter, when Salena Johnson had no money, her two young sons missed school for a week.

“They don’t really like to stay home,” Ms. Johnson, 42, said. “Even if they’re sick, they still want to come to school, and I have to tell them they can’t let the other kids get sick.”

For the past several years, Ms. Johnson, a mother of six whose other children are all grown, has relied on public assistance to help make ends meet and rear her youngest sons, Taquan, 10, and Jamir, 12, in the Bronx. She was laid off from her job as a home care aide at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx in 2006 and has not found work since.

“Once I pay my light and gas bill, I really don’t have too much left,” said Ms. Johnson, who lives in the Morrisania section. Her youngest sons’ father has at times provided financial help, but it has been inconsistent, Ms. Johnson said.

Her sons, however, have had full and active lives, thanks in large part to the Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools program at Public School 50 in East Harlem, where they have been enrolled for five years. Ms. Johnson said none of the schools in her neighborhood compared with what P.S. 50 offered the boys, so they take two trains to school in Manhattan.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.