Sunday Friends: Enabling families to break the cycle of poverty

A little girl receives a new backpack during a Sunday Friends back-to-school shopping day in August. In 2019, Sunday Friends plans to offer programs during the week at one of its school sites.

• Mission: Sunday Friends empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children while educating and guiding parents to support their children’s life success.

• 2018 update: James McCaskill joined Sunday Friends as its new executive director. Rather than trying out new things, McCaskill said the nonprofit organization is working on investing more in the existing aspects of the program, including literacy (both reading and writing), financial literacy, health and wellness, parent engagement, digital literacy and educational opportunities.

In 2019, Sunday Friends plans to offer programs during the week at one of its school sites. It currently operates only on Sundays, in addition to opening its “treasure chest” store six days per week.

Sunday Friends’ motto is that it’s “the working alternative to charity,” with participants of all ages earning what they receive. The children’s work includes activities such as making placemats for Meals on Wheels or holiday decorations for a local children’s hospital or hospice. Kids may work to earn toys, school supplies and, through a partnership with the Silicon Valley Bike Exchange, bicycles. Families can earn practical items such as diapers, personal hygiene products and household items, and twice a year can even participate in a rent-relief program wherein Sunday Friends writes checks directly to landlords.

McCaskill said three words describe the Sunday Friends program: “learning,” “earning” and “serving.”

“We believe that no matter your station in life, you can help others and give back,” he said.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: Sunday Friends serves up to 1,400 very-low-income individuals annually – half of them children. More than ever, as economic situations in the region become more challenging, programs like Sunday Friends are needed.

“Our families are very motivated to work toward a better future,” McCaskill said.

Sunday Friends

Location: 730 Story Road, Suite 3, San Jose

Founded: 1997

Annual budget: $1.5 million

Staff: 3 full-time, 27 part-time employees; 3,400 volunteers



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