Interview with Andrea Condodemetraky, co-chairman of the board, The Lakes Region Santa Fund .
What is your organization’s mission?
We care for children in educational, financial, social, and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives.
Who do you serve within the Greater Lakes Region? And through what programs and services do you serve them?
We serve families through our annual Outerwear Distribution in fall, through which our reach extends to over 700 children; through our camp scholarships; and our Emergency Fund. Two years ago, we were even able to help the community of Bristol create an outerwear distribution program of its own as well.
How do you impact peoples’ lives?
By donating brand-new coats and boots to children in the Lakes Region, we are sending a message that people in their community care. It is not just a coat to keep them warm; it is a way to ensure they can still walk to school when it’s cold or play on the playground in the snow with their friends, or even just have a bright and comfy coat to call their own. Also, aside from outerwear, our Emergency Fund program provides a safety net when needs of an underserved family don’t fit in the guidelines of other agencies. We have helped pay for funerals, hospital trips, food, clothing and other necessities during very difficult and unexpected situations that may arise in the lives of the families we serve. The Santa Fund has provided much needed emergency aid to fire victims as well. Sometimes by taking a little bit of the strain off of these families, they can focus more on recovering, healing or grieving instead of how they will pay for these expenses. We have made a difference in many lives by being a source of help when they desperately need it.
How has funding from the Greater Lakes Children’s Auction benefited your organization?
Funding from the Children’s Auction has been a steady way to keep up with the sharp incline of numbers of children in need of aid.
What kind of feedback do you get from those you serve?
When we see the looks of gratitude and sometimes even disbelief on their faces when we present them with the aid they need, it is all the thanks we need. Between the laughter of the children playing in the snow while wearing our outerwear and the thank you notes and photos received by campers, and even the emails from families we have assisted, we are always rewarded by knowing our aid is greatly appreciated and that we helped made a huge difference in so many lives.
Please tell us a story about an impact you had on a child or a family that was transformative.
By providing aid to not only a terminally ill child but her entire family, we were able to allow them to focus on her last few months of life instead of focusing on bills and medicine and how they will feed their family. We were able to assist them with grocery gift cards, gas money to get to the hospital, and lots of other necessities. We have so many stories of assisting families and watching them thrive once they got on their feet.
Interview done by Janice Beetle Books.