By Ellen Muscarella
I was the second Family Services staff member ever. I was responsible for getting contacts, reaching out to them, and then putting on workshops for the residents. Through these workshops, Family Services aims to pull families together and establish a community amongst residents.
One of my fondest memories is from a healthy eating on a budget workshop. We had an instructor do a cooking demonstration with greens and squash, ingredients that residents could get from our food assistance programs. While ingredients like these are often found in abundance at our programs, residents didn’t necessarily know how to cook them. The instructor led residents in cooking the vegetables in a little bit of avocado oil and various spices. She even went out of her way to make sure the spices she used were inexpensive and could be purchased at places such as the 99 Cent store or Trader Joe’s.
The best moment however was an interaction between a resident from Villa Garcia and a resident from Esseff Village. The resident from Esseff Village was on a very tight budget but wanted a blender for her food. She had difficulties chewing food because of the condition of her teeth. Overhearing this, a resident from Villa Garcia, also on a fixed income, offered to buy the other resident the small kitchen appliance so that she could cook healthy for herself.
This is what I really love most about Many Mansions–the community. I love the way residents work together and really look out for one another. Whether it’s a senior citizen buying a kitchen appliance for someone at Esseff Village, or an older teen generously watching the kids on the playground, they all really pull together.
It’s the combination of the housing and services that really makes Many Mansions what it is. Kids know that they have somewhere to go for snacks, books, and even help with homework. Adults have access to workshops that not only teach them something but also help to connect them with others.
Had it not been for that cooking workshop, those two residents would never have come together. They would have probably never met, and, even if they did, this conversation would not have resulted in them pulling together to be healthier people.