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 "Neediest Cases Fund," which is now in its 100th year.
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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid