In the past, Stephanie Sanabria, a City Connects Coordinator in Springfield, Mass., had been known as the Bed Lady because she helped secure beds for local families.
Now, she’s essentially been promoted to Desk Wizard.
“The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless helps us with beds,” through its A Bed for Every Child initiative, Sanabria says. “But they realized that the need goes beyond beds. Because of remote learning, kids also need desks. When I got the coalition’s email about this, I thought, We need this in Springfield.”
Sanabria’s long-standing relationship with the coalition made it easier to bring this resource to Springfield students.
Sanabria has received two shipments, including a total of 55 desks, and she’s shared them with City Connects’ schools around Springfield.
A group of four coordinators helped distribute the desks delivered in the most recent shipment, helping families and also getting to see each other in person for the first time in months, which was, Sanabria says, “really nice.”
Families pick up the desks at a central distribution point.
“We tell families to wear masks. We’re following all the safety protocols.”
If a family can’t secure a vehicle for the pick-up, City Connects or school staff will drop desks off at families’ homes.
For Sanabria, being a Desk Wizard has another benefit.
“What has been amazing is that several of my former students from the early childhood center, who are now in kindergarten, first grade, or second grade, have been referred to receive a bed or a desk, so I get to see the kids and their parents again. It’s like a reunion, and I’m like, Oh my gosh. I tell them, I love you. I wish I could hug you. It’s really gratifying to be able to see them and connect.”
More families still need desks, so Sanabria has put their names on a waiting list, and she hopes additional desks will arrive soon. “I am optimistic,” she says.
Sanabria’s optimism and her energy are key ingredients that help City Connects do its vital work of getting the right services to the right child at the right time.