In this issue:

  • What We Love About FOA
  • Friends of FOA: Supporting Essential Needs
  • Maggie Hodges: Art With a Heart
  • Save the Date: Light Up the Night! 2024
  • It's Not Too Late to Contribute to FOA's 2023 Winter Appeal

Dear Friends,

I am one of those truly lucky people who love their job, and I have loved it for thirty-one years.

Through the years, I've watched parents struggle and persevere. I've witnessed and supported them as they have gotten devastating medical news, had their children removed by protective services, held a woman’s hand as she received stitches after a domestic violence incident, and driven them to a homeless shelter because they have lost their home. All very hard stuff, but still I have loved my job.


I’ve loved it through all the hard experiences because the power of helping someone through those experiences has far outweighed any discomfort I might have felt while being in that moment.  


It also makes the successes all the sweeter. When someone we have been working with gets the job they applied for, or their driver’s license, or their Green Card, or their child graduates, or they graduate, or, incredibly, in a few cases, they buy their first home, I am reminded of what connection, support, and yes, love, can accomplish. 


I think one of the reasons we are so successful at FOA is because we love our job. Our community advisory board members love our work because they see the transformative change a person can make with consistent, expert support. Our participants love FOA because they know when they reach out for help they will be treated with respect and compassion. They know that they will get what they need to truly change their lives. 


In this month’s newsletter, you will read about why we, the staff, board, and participants love FOA.


Some of the words that really stood out for me in our clients quotes were “inspire,” “patient,” “kind,” and “hope.” These words embody what we do at FOA every day. Your participation in FOA allows us to do this work; you are part of the love that helps a family change their lives. Thank you.

Warm Regards,

Laura Reichsman
Family Outreach of Amherst

What We Love About FOA


❤️ “What I absolutely love about my job is figuring out how to solve someone's problem. A client will arrive in our office feeling defeated. By the time they leave, they have a smile on their face because we did it together. Many times a client will say to me, 'You always figure things out.' That's what keeps me motivated.”

❤️ “Often a client will come into the office desperate for assistance, unaware there are resources to assist them. I help them navigate through stressful situations and put the pieces together. I love to be able to share with them that I've struggled too, and tell them that when everything seems to be falling apart, there's hope that things will get better. Being able to empathize with them makes a world of difference.”

❤️ “I love that I can come into the FOA office at any given time and chat with our staff, even if it's just to debrief. I know that I can count on their support. Quite honestly, that's what keeps me here. We're truly a family.”

❤️ “I love being able to help someone find the tools they need to build their life over—to restart their life. Sometimes people don't realize those tools are out there. I've seen a lot of people turn their lives around—it’s a beautiful thing.”

❤️ “Most of the people we talk to who are seeking assistance are facing some sort of crisis. Often, they've been ignored, disbelieved, or brushed aside. Not only do we offer the resources to assist them, but we speak to them with kindness and compassion. We let them know they're being heard. I love that simply taking the time to REALLY listen to our clients can make such a tremendous positive impact.”

❤️ “Sometimes we come across Department of Children and Families (DCF) clients who don't want to meet with us. It takes a lot of persuading. I explain to them that I'm not here to judge them—I’m here to help them.”

❤️ “I love it when I witness someone turn their life around. One of my clients was dealing with a domestic violence (DV) situation. DV cases are challenging because the victim may be in denial, hoping the abuser will reform. Thankfully, this client made the brave decision to extricate him from her life. She's since embarked on a journey in a nursing program and has emerged as a remarkable champion for her children.”


❤️ "I am so grateful to have met you. You are part of my family's life. You always push me to be a better person and inspire me to achieve things in my life I didn't think I could. You always give me hope!"

❤️ "Every time I am in crisis or have an issue I don't know how to deal with, you are the one person who is always there to try and help me get through it.

❤️ "I feel like you are my fairy godmother! You always bless me and my family in so many ways!"

❤️ "The one thing I love about working with you is you never give up! You are patient and so kind."

❤️ "My family is so blessed that she came into our lives! She is a light in our lives!"

❤️ "We've never worked with an organization that was so involved in helping us."

❤️ "Can FOA be our family?"


❤️ “There are so many things that I love about FOA. One moment that really stands out is when a mom had a serious health crisis and her seven-year-old daughter took charge of her younger siblings. The safest thing the daughter knew to do was call Iris who stepped in big time, got in touch with members of the family (not DCF), ensured that the mom was taken care of appropriately and kept the children together and safe. Above and beyond…”

❤️ “I love that I have learned so much being associated with FOA. The way the staff tackles issues with some of the hardest-hit struggling families with major problems has taught me compassion and compelled me to get other people involved in helping. When they say it takes a village, it really does!”

❤️ “I love the fact that the door to services is never closed, and that even when people have 'graduated' to needing less acute services, they can always come back for help.”

❤️ “I continue to work with Family Outreach of Amherst because of the life changing work they do every day; helping families navigate the bureaucracy of state and federal agencies, accompanying people to housing court, assisting families move and resettle, making sure children are safe, and working with families who seek a more promising and secure future. It's vital that FOA get the resources it needs to continue this important work and I want to use my time and energy to support that effort.”

❤️ “I joined the FOA board in 2016. I love that with all of the negativity going on today, being involved in FOA is a way to do something positive for people in my community.”

❤️ “I have often thought about how difficult it must be for a non-English speaker to navigate our complicated legal and medical institutions. I love that FOA has knowledgeable, empathic Spanish-speaking caseworkers, which is crucial when dealing with domestic violence and immigration issues.”

❤️ “It is not infrequent that I get teary during your reports to the advisory board, read the Friends requests and the newsletter. I got goose bumps when telling a friend about you all. I’m sure I am now more aware of the multitude of inequities stacked against those less fortunate than I.”

❤️ "Having housing security is such a basic that I can’t imagine much else could follow without having that in place. I am always studying these 'tiny houses' and I vow that once I win the lottery I will build a village for anyone who needs a home! 

That being said, assuming that FOA can help a family secure housing, what has always moved me are the stories about someone in the family being able to obtain an education. You can assume that this is one ticket out of the cycle of poverty. You can imagine that there is enough time and mental space in the family for someone to concentrate. You hope there is no threat of violence. You can guess that there is enough security in place that someone in that family is able to take a new path. Those stories always bring tears to my eyes."

❤️ "My parents came from immigrant families in NYC. They both were blessed by opportunities in New York to go to college at night while working in the day. They eventually bought their house and sent my brother and me to college. They left us with the legacy that we damn well better do the same for our kids! And so it goes. 

But still, why do I continue being a part of FOA? Well, it’s a kind of paying it forward. Anything I can do from where I stand to help someone along their path is worth my attention. I got a leg up from my parents and it’s good to try to make that happen for the next group coming along. I feel lucky to be able to do that in my own community."

❤️ "Being new to FOA, I am still getting acquainted with the day-to-day challenges and other supports needed. It is a humbling experience as I learn more about individual families and their struggles. Housing insecurities, domestic violence are dear to me but honestly all struggles are real and will support however I can. I am thankful personally and professionally."

❤️ "One way FOA helps struggling families is by finding housing for those on the verge of homelessness or those seeking shelter from domestic violence. Often times, these clients have nothing more than the clothes on their back. Through the generosity of our extensive Friends network, we are able to match the needs of the client with people who are looking to donate furniture and household goods. My husband and I along with another board member volunteer to get these goods to the client to help set up a comfortable new living space that allows them the ability to better care for their children in a safer environment. I really enjoy helping in such a tangible way."

Friends of FOA Unite to Support Family's Essential Need

Friends of FOA once again demonstrated their remarkable spirit of community in the face of a family's adversity.

A family of eight, grappling with the challenge of their broken washing machine, found themselves in a dire situation. The stay-at-home dad, struggling to wash his family's clothes in the sink, underscored just how vital a washing machine can be—far beyond a simple convenience, it's a lifeline for a family managing the demands of daily life.

We reached out to our Friends group, sharing the family's plight. True to their unwavering commitment to aid those in need, our donors quickly responded. Within 24 hours, we raised enough funds to purchase a new washing machine for the family.

This act of collective kindness was not just about replacing an appliance; their generosity significantly improved the quality of life for this family, highlighting the profound impact of community support and the difference it can make in the lives of those facing challenges.

Art with a Heart: Maggie Hodges' Exhibit Supports FOA

We'd like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to local artist and FOA board member, Maggie Hodges.

Maggie's exquisite paintings were on display at The Mill District General Store & Local Art Gallery January 4th through February 27th, 2024. The exhibit offered a unique opportunity for art lovers to purchase Maggie's beautiful works.

In a generous act of kindness to FOA, Maggie committed to donating twenty percent of the proceeds from the sales during this exhibition directly to FOA.

Thank you, Maggie, for your incredible talent and support. Your contributions truly make a difference!

There's Still Time to Contribute to FOA's

2023 Winter Appeal

It's not too late to contribute to our 2023 Winter Appeal. Your generous donations are the cornerstone of the vital services we offer daily.

FOA is dedicated to providing a broad spectrum of support, including housing assistance, domestic violence intervention, parent coaching, help in securing employment or educational opportunities, budgeting advice, and immigration services.

The families we assist are part of our community—our neighbors—who rely on your support to remain housed, safe, and capable of nurturing healthy, happy children. By donating to FOA, you play a crucial role in ensuring their well-being and future success.

We are deeply grateful for your continued support and generosity.

It’s easy to donate. Simply visit our website or scan the QR code below:

If you prefer, you can also mail a check to:

Family Outreach of Amherst

401 Main Street, Suite 12

Amherst, MA 01002

Because of you, last year we were able to help over 500 families in our community not only survive, but thrive. Thank you!

As an organization celebrating its 33rd anniversary, we remember where we came from—a shelter in the center of Amherst, housing six mothers and their children—and give thanks for the generosity of hundreds of individuals and businesses, like you, who make it possible for us to serve over 500 families a year!

For more information about Family Outreach of Amherst and the many services we provide to the most vulnerable members of our community, click here or call (413) 549-5548. To make a donation, please click on the "donate" button below.

Family Outreach of Amherst Advisory Board

Katherine Appy
Sarah Auerbach
Connie Gillen
Maggie Hodges

Lynn Logan

Anika Lopes

Sheila Mammen

Sara McComb

Betsy McInnis

Kim Montague

Deb Napier

Louise Reilly

Kacey Schmitt

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