|Michael Webster (left) passes out gifts he purchased for the children at Angel House.
As a client in HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, Harwich’s Amy Webster understands what it’s like to receive help from others. She has passed on those lessons of compassion to her nine-year-old son, Michael, who was on the giving side of the equation in December, when he opted to pay it forward to children staying in HAC’s Angel House shelter.
It started when the Websters were at Ocean State Job Lot, waiting patiently to check out. The woman in front of them was participating in the store’s program encouraging customers to purchase boots for veterans. In exchange, she received a gift card to Ocean State Job Lot which she gave to Michael “because of how well he was behaving,” Amy said.
Instead of using the card on himself, Michael wanted to find a way to help others. With his mother’s guidance, Michael decided to purchase toys and art supplies for those at Angel House, delivering them just one day shy of his own birthday in the middle of December.
The act of charity was well-received by those at the shelter, Amy said. Even better, her son was able to meet the recipients of his kindness, spending a few hours playing with them.
“I’ve seen, throughout my life, how doing things for others without expecting anything back has made a huge difference,” Amy said of why this was an important exercise for her son. “I want him to learn that other people’s feelings are more important than things, and you’re never too good to help other people.”
Since 2014, she has been working with Jan Nelson, HAC’s FSS coordinator, to attain personal goals, all in an effort to eventually move off state and federal subsidies.
The program provides incentives for clients to do so by establishing an escrow savings account that is available upon completion of FSS. Any increase in rent as a result of an increase in one’s salary is placed into that escrow savings account.
If Amy continues meeting her goals, she will eventually graduate from the program in December 2019. So far, she has already noticed the benefits of FSS. “It encourages people who are motivated to get a job, get off subsidized housing and is a stepping stone to a better life for you and your family,” she said.