By: Michelle Gruber, LMSW, Director of Operations for My Extended Family
“Your name says it all, ‘My Extended Family.’ My children and I did not spend Purim alone this year as we had for the last two years. We were among friends and family. I can’t thank you enough for what you have done not only for my children but for me as well.” – Excerpt from an email received hours after the My Extended Family Purim Party.
My Extended Family is an organization dedicated to the support and well-being of children from single parent homes. Throughout their four branches in Crown Heights, Flatbush, Five Towns/ Far Rockaway and Monsey they support over 300 children and their single parents. But their dedication doesn’t stop with the children. My Extended Family is committing to helping single parents who are doing all they can to raise their child(ren) and to provide their child(ren) with a good life. Throughout the year, My Extended Family hosts parent workshops where parents can get the chizuk/ support they need and learn new skills that can provide practical guidance on single parenting.
The Flatbush and Monsey branches of My Extended Family hosted Purim parties on Yud Daled Adar, February 26, that not only welcomed parents and children that participate in their weekly programs, but welcomed the entire community; for any single parent family looking for a place to celebrate the chag. Altogether over 175 children and their parents participated in a breakfast seudah complete with megillah laining, clowns, face painting, photo booths, balloon twisting and so much more. The goal of My Extended Family is to show love, give attention to each child and to support their parents that may be feeling overwhelmed and overburdened. Judging by the shrieks of excitement, laughter and applause throughout both parties, I think My Extended Family exceeded its goal. My Extended Family didn’t just teach children that Purim should be celebrated, they also incorporated teaching the children good midos while they are having fun, with each child leaving with Mishloach Manos, Purim gelt, and each gave matanos le’vyonim before they left the party.
Single parent kids are often a forgotten population, kids you may not see in shul, and who are going through so much. We may not be able to change their circumstances but when anyone knows they are not alone in their struggle and someone cares; it empowers them. My Extended Family sees those parents and recognizes their struggles. The organization does its best to lighten the burden each parent carries, therefore each parent left the party with a gift card to a local grocery store. That’s right, My Extended Family wants to help the entire single parent family, not just the children. We recognized the unsung superheroes who are both Mommy and Daddy. Throughout the year, parents are empowered with parenting workshops and special gifts to help them with some of their financial burden.
While the Purim parties lasted for only a couple of hours, memories were made that will last long after the pictures fade and the candy has been eaten.