News / USA

Newspaper Fund Helps NYC's Neediest

New York Times continues century-old holiday tradition

Charles Smith and his son, Cie-Jay, are overcoming a series of traumatic personal setbacks.
Charles Smith and his son, Cie-Jay, are overcoming a series of traumatic personal setbacks.

Multimedia

Audio

The holiday season is traditionally a time for celebration and gift giving. But for New Yorkers facing dire health, financial or other challenges, life is far from merry. For 100 years, The New York Times has published some of these hard-luck stories and invited readers to contribute money to help.   

The seed for the Neediest Cases Fund was planted with a small, seemingly random act.

According to Michael Golden, who oversees the fund today, publisher Arthur Ochs was walking off a heavy holiday meal, in December 1911, when a stranger approached and politely asked for a handout. Ochs gave him a dollar and a job prospect.



"And then, as he walked away, he thought, ‘The end of the year is a traditional time for gift giving and a lot of good spirit. Perhaps the newspaper could do something on a grander scale.’ And that gave rise to the first Neediest Cases drive.”

A century later, the Neediest Cases Fund still helps people like Charles Smith, a client at Brooklyn Community Services, one of seven social service agencies the fund works with.

Michael Golden oversees The New York Times
Michael Golden oversees The New York Times "Neediest Cases Fund," which is now in its 100th year.

In 2008, Smith had a good job and was able to support his aging mother and young son. But within a year, Smith was diagnosed with cancer and forced to quit his job to undergo treatment. Without health insurance and nearly penniless, Smith and his son moved in with his mom, who soon developed a terminal illness.  

“When I began to get well, my mother passed away,” says Smith. “That was devastating as well. She was an anchor. It was traumatic going through it - the nightmares, the getting up in the middle of the night, talking cold showers, just to try to get myself together.”  

Smith turned to Brooklyn Community Services, which treated him for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and offered family counseling for him and his son - all subsidized by funds from Neediest Cases.

The Neediest Cases Fund also helped pay for counseling and incidental living expenses for Garvin Henry, 35, who has suffered from mental illness most of his life.   

“I’ve been having hard times in my life,” Henry recalls. “I was breaking down with depression, stress and anger.”   

Yet Henry has always excelled in making art. The fund subsidized an art therapy class for Henry and other challenged adults. It was a structured way for them to explore their feelings while playing to their strengths.

“I did my work also and they did their work and I am happy for myself and everybody else. This is like the biggest stepping stone for us to use to our advantage. It means a lot to me, a lot to them.”

The Cordis family was hit with more than their share of troubles. When family patriarch died suddenly in 2006, his wife suffered a nervous breakdown and is still unable to work. That left her teenage daughters, Judy and Christina, to fend for themselves and care for their younger brother David. Soon the family was living in a shelter.

With Neediest Cases funds, they received family counseling. Judy says the fund also gave David the money he needed for his eighth grade prom, which was a huge morale booster.   

“I would have felt horrible if he wasn’t able to do that. I would have felt like that’s something else we were unable to give him as his older sisters.”

The prom money was the start of a positive trend. Catholic Charities of America, another Times Neediest Cases Fund agency, helped the family sort out its immigration problems. It now seems American citizenship is on its way, and with it, the right to work, and leave the shelter.

Carolina Martinez is getting her life back on track after a year of setbacks including the death of her father, separating from her husband, getting sick and being evicted along with her two children.
Carolina Martinez is getting her life back on track after a year of setbacks including the death of her father, separating from her husband, getting sick and being evicted along with her two children.

The future once looked bright for Carolina Martinez. She had two young sons, a husband, good health and a dream of going to college and nursing school. But within one year, her father died, her husband left her, her schoolwork began to suffer, she developed a near fatal heart condition, her longtime apartment building was bought by developers, and she was evicted, with no money for moving expenses.  

“And then I said ‘What now?’ So I said, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, it’s all in your hands. I have no other way. I have no one else to ask.’”   

Within days, the Shorefront Y, a network agency of the UJA Federation of New York, told Martinez that the Neediest Cases Fund would cover her moving expenses. Today, back in college and on her way to nursing school, she intends to give back the help she has received by helping others. “Absolutely. At the end of the tunnel, there is light.”

The New York Times spotlights the tangible results of helping others, encouraging continued kindness. The dollar amount of donations to the Neediest Cases Fund has decreased recently, but the number of people contributing to it continues to rise.   

UJA-Federation of New York

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs