One thing that everyone interested in JAMM Family Services wants to know, whether they’re a prospective donor or a potential recipient themselves, is what a JAMM family looks like. And though the families whom JAMM assists vary in a lot of ways, they still have enough in common that we can sketch out a general portrait of what a typical JAMM family is like.
In the most basic sense, we service single working parents who need help getting their family through a rough patch.
The parent in a JAMM family is usually a single mother, but this is just because most single parents tend to be mothers, and not a result of any policy on JAMM’s part, as we consider single fathers as well.
Regardless, the parent has gone through some sort of trauma that has left them alone in caring for their children—a divorce in some cases, the tragic death of their beloved spouse in others. In spite of this trauma, the parent continues to work hard to provide for their children as best they can, often working overtime or multiple jobs to try and bring in enough to keep their children taken care of and shield them from the financial consequences of the missing parent’s absence.
But this is a more difficult task than many can handle in the uncertain aftermath following the loss of their partner—scraping by is one thing, but can you preserve a decent life for your children when you’re only just barely making ends meet?
Often, the circumstances of being left the sole provider and caretaker responsible for the whole family instill a profound sense of independence in the parent. When you’re forced to handle things on your own, you start to feel like this is how it’s supposed to be, that you can share no burden and accept no assistance.
But that pride, though it may give you personal satisfaction, doesn’t give your children a better life. Even if you think you can get by without assistance, we ask you to consider us. We’re no government welfare program, and what we do isn’t charity. What we do comes from having been in your place before, understanding what you’re going through, and simply wanting to help those on the path we once walked, just as you, too, may want to do once you’ve gotten through this.
The children in a JAMM family range in age from newborns to older children entering their teen years, and include as only children or as groups of siblings. As long as they live with the applicant parent, these factors can vary widely.
Our aim is to minimize the interruption to the children’s lives that occurs in the wake of a traumatic family event as described above. For young children, this may mean helping the family stay in their current home so that they aren’t forced to move into a less desirable area with worse schools, disrupting their education. For older children, this could mean assisting the parent maintain an adult presence in the home by helping them pay for childcare, keeping the children off the streets and away from negative influences.
But above all, what we hope to accomplish is to nurture the emotional and spiritual growth of the children and the family as a whole. All too often, the grind of keeping the rent paid and food in the fridge leaves the most important parts of a child’s development neglected, at just that moment when they are sorting through all their feelings from the event that left them living with a single parent.
That’s why a JAMM family is one that must be open to accepting our requirement that they try to take the children to church regularly. While the parent doesn’t necessarily have to be Christian, and has their own choice of where to take the children, we firmly believe that the spiritual attention and community involvement that a church provides is absolutely vital to guiding the child through this tough time.
All of this together is what makes a family a JAMM family—a family that comes together and, with hard work, soul-searching, and doing what’s best for each other, weathers even the harshest of storms.