Still time to give to Season for Caring

This 2016-2017 Statesman Season for Caring has been a record-breaking one. As of Thursday, we have raised $817,418.83, that’s more than $37,000 more than the previous best year the 2007-2008 season.

Maricela Garcia cares for her son Raymond Alejandro Martinez-Garcia, 9, at their apartment. JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Maricela Garcia cares for her son Raymond Alejandro Martinez-Garcia, 9, at their apartment. JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

There is still time to make your donation. Gifts made through Jan. 31 go to help the featured families you’ve been reading about since Nov. 27 as well as the featured nonprofit agencies that nominated them. Your gift will help the agencies do more with Season for Caring funds for these families as well as for hundreds of others.

All of the featured families still have a couple of items on their wish lists:

Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez, 26, who lost his wife last year and his daughter this month, both to cancer, needs gift cards. To help, call Hospice Austin at 512-342-4726 or visit hospiceaustin.org.

Terry Markland, 65,who is unable to walk because of 30-year-old injury, needs plastic floor mats and Capital Metro Access passes. To help, call Family Eldercare at 512-450-0844 or visit familyeldercare.org.

Ashley McGill, 31, who has neurological damage following a car accident, needs a computer and help with rent and medical bills. To help, call Wonders & Worries at 512-329-5757 or visit wondersandworries.org.

Deloris Fields, 27, found out her breast cancer had spread to her bones the day after her son, Connor, was born a year ago. She needs a laptop, a printer, furniture and a gently used car. To help, call the Breast Cancer Resource Center at 512-817-9775 or visit bcrc.org.

Issa Noheli, 62, and his family came to Austin after living for 17 years in refugee camps in Central Africa. They need dressers, a gently used car, driving lessons and a vacuum cleaner. To help, call Interfaith Action of Central Texas at 512-386-9145 or visit interfaithtexas.org.

Sheila King, 49, lost her 15-year-old son to suicide in July and her husband and mother to cancer in September. The Kings need laptops, a new septic system and Home Depot gift cards. To help, call the CareBox Program at 512-296-2180 or visit careboxprogram.org.

Francisco Zuñiga-Echeverria, 28, grew up in foster care and was homeless. He would like allergy testing as well as a Moped scooter. To help, call LifeWorks at 512-735-2473 or visit lifeworksaustin.org.

Maricela Garcia, 42, and her son Raymond, 9, who has Renpenning syndrome, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, need car repairs and driving lessons; pots and pans; and a toaster. To help, call Foundation Communities at 512-610-7391 or visit foundcom.org.

• After mother Rosalba Martínez-López died Dec. 2 from cervical cancer, her children need a reliable used car, eyeglasses, day care and tuition. To help, call Care Communities at 512-459-5883 or visit carecommunities.org.

Keila Vasquez, 20, and Luis Olais, 21, and their two children need child care and kitchen supplies. To help, call SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) at 512-590-3114 or visit safeaustin.org.

Liliana De La Paz, 30, and Juan Martínez Domínguez, 29, have two sons in wheelchairs. They need a high dining room table with chairs and a recliner. To help, call Any Baby Can at 512-454-3743 or visit anybabycan.org.

Uliya Fazal Ahmad, 48, who came with her five children to the United States this year from Afghanistan, needs taxi vouchers and dental care for the children. To help, call Caritas of Austin at 512-646-1277 or visit caritasofaustin.org.

Season for Caring

It’s not too late to make your Season for Caring donation. Donate now through Jan. 31.

• To make a monetary donation to Season for Caring, send it to P.O. Box 50066, Austin, TX 78763-0066, or go online to statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

• Find more stories, videos and photos of all the families, plus what each family still needs at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

• To learn more about making a donation of an item or a service, call 512-445-3590 or email community@statesman.com.

Remaining wishes: Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez

This week we’re highlighting the remaining wishes of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring.

Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez plays with his daughter Emely Rodriguez-Aviles. Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez plays with his daughter Emely Rodriguez-Aviles in October.
Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez, 26, lost his wife, Adriana, to cervical cancer in August, and his 4-year-old daughter, Emely, to complications after a leukemia diagnosis on Jan. 5. 

While Emely was in the hospital, an anonymous family donated enough money to cover Rodriguez-Lopez’ rent for the coming year, as well as a van to replace his car, which needed repairs. He had also received gifts, gift cards and painting supplies from the Butler Bros., a local brand studio.

His needs have changed since Emely’s death. He needs help with:

  • Paying for Emely’s funeral.
  • Gift cards to Amazon for an urn for Adriana and an urn for Emely.
  • Gift cards to H-E-B, Walmart and Target.

To find out more about the Rodriguez-Lopez family or fulfill one of their needs, contact Hospice Austin, 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org.

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Remaining wishes: Ashley McGill

Ashley McGill and her two children Alyanna, 10, and Preston, 8, pose for a family portrait. Rodolfo Gonzalez/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Ashley McGill and her two children Alyanna, 10, and Preston, 8, pose for a family portrait. Rodolfo Gonzalez/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

Christmas was just magical for Ashley McGill , 31, and her family, after two years of trying to recover from a car accident that made her unable to work and left the family homeless. First, they spent the night at the Driskill Hotel, where they lighted its Christmas tree. Then, to help relieve her headaches, McGill received an adjustable TempurPedic bed from Factory Mattress, which donated new beds to all the Season for Caring families. The week before Christmas, the McGills were inundated with gifts from Grisham Middle School art and theater students.

She still has a few more items on her wish list:

  • Financial assistance with rent, utilities and medical bills.
  • Car battery and new tires.
  • Living room sectional.
  • Computer.
  • Motorized bicycle.
  • Gift cards to children’s museum and roller skating.

To find out more about the McGill family or to make a donation on their wish list, contact Wonders and Worries, 512-329-5757, wondersandworries.org.

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Season for Caring breaks giving record with more than $805,000

Deloris Fields kissed her son, Connor Guenther after picking him up from daycare. Fields was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer on Dec. 4, 2015, the day after her son was born. RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Deloris Fields kissed her son, Connor Guenther after picking him up from daycare. Fields was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer on Dec. 4, 2015, the day after her son was born. RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It was the story of Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez, a young father who was trying to take care of his 4-year-old daughter with Down syndrome after the loss of his wife in August to cancer. And it was the story of Deloris Fields, a young mom with metastatic breast cancer, who was trying to make it to her son’s first birthday and beyond. And the story of Rosalba Martínez-López a mom with cervical cancer who wondered how her four children and grandchild would go on without her.

The community read their stories and the stories of nine other families featured in Statesman Season for Caring, and they gave.

As of Wednesday morning, Season for Caring has raised $805,923, the most ever in its 18-year history. The previous record was $780,000 in 2007.

Season for Caring has now raised more than $10.5 million since 1999 to help local nonprofit groups throughout Central Texas. Donations are still being accepted through Jan. 31, and checks already received are still being counted by the Austin Community Foundation, which administers the fund.

“Year after year, our generous readers and business partners such as Factory Mattress, P. Terry’s, Star Furniture and Whataburger embrace the Statesman Season for Caring campaign, and prove that, together, we can make a difference in our community,” said Statesman Publisher Susie Gray. “It’s an honor to announce that 2016 was the most successful season on record, raising more cash and in-kind donations than ever before in the 18-year history. On behalf of the campaign and hundreds of Central Texas families, thank you to our readers and business partners. I would also like to acknowledge the Austin Community Foundation for administering the Season for Caring fund since its inception in 1999.”

Each year Season for Caring features a dozen families nominated by local nonprofits. The money raised helps the featured families first but then gets used by the nonprofit agencies throughout the year to help hundreds of other families with basic needs such as rent, groceries, medical care and transportation. Season for Caring has thus far distributed $22,000 this season to each agency. The rest of the donations will be distributed at the beginning of February.

jwj-p-terrys-0408
Mark Needham eats lunch with family friend Addie Raab, 10, at P. Terry’s Burger Stand on West William Cannon Drive on Dec. 10. Profits from all P. Terry’s locations were donated to the Statesman’s Season For Caring Campaign. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The gifts came in big and small ways. A $100,000 matching grant from the Sheth family brought in an additional $197,000 from Dec. 14-27. Whataburger began the program on Nov. 27 with a $25,000 gift. P. Terry’s Burger Stand held its annual Season for Caring Giving Back Day on Dec. 10 and donated a day’s profits, which brought in $31,640. Factory Mattress donated new beds, worth $28,000, to all the Season for Caring agencies and even replaced the mattresses that were stolen from a truck at their warehouse.

For the second year, Cookies for Caring at the Driskill Hotel sold out, and this year, you could bid on items from Statesman advertisers.

Furniture companies Star Furniture and Austin’s Couch Potatoes each gave a family a house full of new furniture. Families got access to medical care including a motorized wheelchair, eye glasses, hearing aids and dental care from Capital Area Dental Foundation. Elementary-school kids, middle-schoolers and high-schoolers took up collections of gifts for a featured family.

Individuals donated cars and laptops. Schools gave training programs and college tuition. Families also are on their ways to living in improved homes, new apartments and mobile homes because of donations.

Rosabla Martínez-López hold her granddaughter Sofia Guerrero Mondragón as her daughter Kimberley Mondragón-Martínez looks on during their visit at the Hospice Austin's Christopher House. Rosalba Martínez-López, who has stage IV cervical cancer. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Rosabla Martínez-López hold her granddaughter Sofia Guerrero Mondragón as her daughter Kimberley Mondragón-Martínez looks on during their visit at the Hospice Austin’s Christopher House in October.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

This Season for Caring has come with extreme heartache. Rosalba Martínez-López died on Dec. 2. Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez’s daughter Emely was diagnosed with leukemia in December and died Jan. 5. Sheila King’s family accepted the nomination and then lost two family members that week.

Each of the families still have items on their wish lists and still need monetary donations to help the featured families and so many more.

“Having Season for Caring raises the level of hope, ” says Z Blair, a client coordinator at Care Communities, which supports people with cancer or HIV/AIDS. “We are able to lift the quality of life of several of our clients. That wouldn’t be possible without the funds.”

 

Season for Caring

It’s not too late to make your Season for Caring donation. Donate now through Jan. 31.

• To make a monetary donation to Season for Caring, send it to P.O. Box 50066, Austin, TX 78763-0066, or go online to statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

• Find more stories, videos and photos of all the families, plus what each family still needs at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

• To learn more about making a donation of an item or a service, call 512-445-3590 or email community@statesman.com.

Remaining wishes: Maricela Garcia

Maricela Garcia cares for her son Raymond Alejandro Martinez-Garcia, 9, at their apartment. JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Maricela Garcia cares for her son Raymond Alejandro Martinez-Garcia, 9, at their apartment. JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

Maricela Garcia is caring for her son Raymond, 9, who has Renpenning syndrome, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She wanted to be able to become a certified nursing assistant to better support him. Through a Season for Caring donation, she will be able to, and a gently used car will help her get there.  She also has some new furniture including new beds from Factory Mattress.

She still has many items on her wish list.

  • Help paying for more therapies for Raymond.
  • Sign language lessons.
  • An iPad to help Raymond communicate.
  • Clothing for Raymond and Maricela.
  • Amazon gift cards for therapy equipment.
  • Bedding.
  • Dressers.
  • Pots and pans.
  • Toaster.
  • Dishes.
  • Rugs.
  • Gift cards for H-E-B, Walmart and Target.

To find out more about the Garcia family or fulfill one of their needs, contact Foundation Communities, 512-610-7391, foundcom.org.

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Remaining wishes: Francisco Zuñiga-Echeverria

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

Francisco Zuñiga-Echeverria, 28, poses for a portrait in the community garden where he grows vegetables and herbs he uses for cooking at his apartment complex. Rodolfo Gonzalez AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Francisco Zuñiga-Echeverria, 28, poses for a portrait in the community garden where he grows vegetables and herbs he uses for cooking at his apartment complex. Rodolfo Gonzalez AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Francisco Zuñiga-Echeverria, who has a profound hearing loss and grew up in foster care, was once homeless. LifeWorks helped move him into an apartment and start college. Now with Season for Caring help, he has new hearing aids and eye glasses. He also has a new bicycle, many gift cards, and a new laptop and printer.

He only has a few more items on his wish list.

  • A moped scooter, protective gear and driving lessons.
  • An job at a grocery store or something similar.
  • Help with college expenses.
  • Cooking and gardening classes.
  • Gardening tools.
  • Allergy testing.
  • Softball team membership.
  • Safety devices for hearing impaired people including flashing light alarms.

To find out more about Zuñiga-Echeverria or to fulfill one of his needs, contact LifeWorks at 512-735-2473, lifeworksaustin.org.

 

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Remaining wishes: family of Rosalba Martinez-Lopez

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

Rosabla Martínez-López hold her granddaughter Sofia Guerrero Mondragón as her daughter Kimberley Mondragón-Martínez looks on during their visit at the Hospice Austin's Christopher House. Rosalba Martínez-López, who has stage IV cervical cancer. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Rosabla Martínez-López died in December. She holds her granddaughter Sofia Guerrero Mondragón as her daughter Kimberley Mondragón-Martínez looks on during their visit at the Hospice Austin’s Christopher House in October. 
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The children of Rosalba Martínez-López are starting this year with a lot of sadness. The 37-year-old mother died of cervical cancer on Dec. 2. 

Since then Season for Caring funds helped pay for her funeral. The heirs of a man, who was also served by Care Communities, donated a mobile home to her children. They are looking for a lot to put the house on.

 

They still have a few items on their wish list:

  • An attorney to help them apply receive food stamps, health insurance and more.
  • Gently used car.
  • Driving lessons.
  • Eye exam and glasses.
  • Day care.
  • Bus passes.
  • Tuition to ACC.
  • Gift cards to grocery stores, clothing stores.
  • Laptops.
  • Gift cards to a furniture store.

For more information about the Martínez-López Mondragón family or to help with an item on their wish list, contact Care Communities, 512-459-5883, carecommunities.org.

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Remaining wishes: Martinez De La Paz family

Liliana, mother and husband Juan with their children Jesus, 2, and Juan Diego, 9 in their Austin home. The De La Paz family has two sons with spinal muscular atrophy, which is a genetic disorder that limits their mobility. Jesus, 2, and his brother Juan Diego, 9, have a life expectancy of about 20. Erich Schlegel/For American-Statesman
Liliana, mother and husband Juan with their children Jesus, 3, and Juan Diego, 9 in their Austin home.
Erich Schlegel/For American-Statesman

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

Liliana De La Paz, 30, and Juan Martínez Domínguez, 29, have two sons with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, which causes a weakening and loss of muscle mass. Both Juan Diego, 9, and Jesús, 3 have wheelchairs, and Juan Diego now has a ventilator and a feeding tube. The disease comes with a life expectancy of 20.

SpawGlass, a commercial real estate construction company, will work to make their home accessible, and real estate attorney Mark Hawkins of Armbrust & Brown is going to help the family establish clear ownership of the house, so that work can be done.

Immigration attorney Jeff Peek of Peek & Toland has agreed to take the parents’ cases to become legal residents. Once that happens, they can receive drivers’ licenses and a van that has a wheelchair ramp that has been donated.

They still have a few items on their wish list:

  • Gift cards to H-E-B, Target and Walmart.
  • Dressers to store medical equipment.
  • Electric blankets.
  • Memory foam pillows.
  • A recliner.
  • A tall dining room table.

To find out more or give an item on the wish list, call Any Baby Can at 512-454-3743 or visit anybabycan.org.

 

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Remaining wishes: Uliya Fazal Ahmad

It’s a new year, and a new start for many of the families featured in Statesman Season for Caring. This week we’re highlighting the progress they have made since we introduced you to them on Nov. 27, and what needs the families still have.

 

The Fazal Ahmad family -- Mukhtar Abdul Jabbar, 19, left, Feroza Abdul Jabbar, 12, Palwasha Abdul Jabbar, 17, Uliya Fazal Ahmad, 48, Nazi Abdul Jabbar, 15, and Nisar Abdul Jabbar, 16 -- arrived from Afghanistan last summer. They are enjoying a meal at their apartment in Austin. Rodolfo Gonzalez/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The Fazal Ahmad family — Mukhtar Abdul Jabbar, 20, left, Feroza Abdul Jabbar, 13, Palwasha Abdul Jabbar, 18, Uliya Fazal Ahmad, 49, Nazi Abdul Jabbar, 16, and Nisar Abdul Jabbar, 15 —
arrived from Afghanistan last summer. They are enjoying a meal at their apartment in Austin.
Rodolfo Gonzalez/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Uliya Fazal Ahmad, 49, and her five children came to America last summer after first fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan. She was protecting her then 14-year-old daughter from marrying a man she didn’t feel was suitable for her.

Since Season for Caring began, an Austin lawyer has purchased to laptops to help the family better learn English.  Readers also donated furniture and many household items.

The family still have many needs:

  • Help getting an MRI on Fazal Ahmad’s ankle to see if it can be repaired.
  • A pain specialist to help her with her ankle.
  • Dental care for the children.
  • English tutoring.
  • Gift cards to H-E-B, Walmart and clothing stores.

To to find out more about the Fazal Ahmad family or fulfill one of their wishes, contact Caritas of Austin, 512-646-1277, caritasofaustin.org.

To make a financial donation, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring or send a check to Season for Caring, P.O. Box 50066, Austin, Texas 78763-0066.

Fifth-graders at Lake Pointe Elementary do extra chores to help Season for Caring

Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez plays with his daughter Emely Rodriguez-Aviles. Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez plays with his daughter Emely Rodriguez-Aviles.
Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The students in MaryAnne Malicki’s fifth-grade class at Lake Pointe Elementary in the Lake Travis school district were hard at work in December.

They raised $360 by doing extra chores such as pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and helping their neighbors. Some gave money from their own savings. It all went to helping Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez.  “You, Mr. Rodriguez-Lopez, inspired my children to be better people. At a time of year when children usually ask for more materialistic items, these children asked for more chores knowing that they were making a difference in someone else’s life,” Malicki wrote in her letter to him.

It’s the second year that her class has selected a Season for Caring recipient and done extra chores to earn money for that recipient. Last year, they earned $384.82 to help Gordon Meeler, a disabled veteran who was unable to reach his bathroom.

Rodriguez-Lopez had an unbelievably tough few months. He lost his wife to cervical cancer in August and was now alone to raise 4-year-old daughter Emely, who had Down syndrome and other medical complications. On Dec. 9, he found out that Emely had leukemia. On Friday, she died from complications from a respiratory infection while getting treatment. 

Malicki wrote in her letter to Rodriguez-Lopez last month: “I hope that … you know that there are many fifth-graders at Lake Pointe Elementary who have been sending you blessings each day … blessings to give you hope … blessings to bring your cheer and blessings that your Christmas wishes will be granted!”

Her class read all the stories of all the Season for Caring families and voted to help Rodriguez-Lopez, who was nominated by Hospice Austin.

“We are all very sorry and humbled by the tragedy of the loss of your wife, but the photography of you and your Emely captured our hearts. The love you have for your child and for making life better for her was captured in that one photo.”

The class made a video for Rodriguez-Lopez of themselves wishing him a Merry Christmas.

It’s not too late to make your Season for Caring donation. Donate now through Jan. 31.

• To make a monetary donation to Season for Caring, send it to P.O. Box 50066, Austin, TX 78763-0066 or go online to statesman.com/season-for-caring-2016/.

• Find more stories, videos and photos of all the families at statesman.com/season-for-caring-2016/ .

• To learn more about making a donation of an item or a service, call 512-445-3590 or email community@statesman.com.