I started helping people in 2019, after I visited Afghanistan and saw how difficult life was over there. Majority of Afghans don’t have access to clean water, AC/heater system, electricity, hygiene products, they sleep and eat on the floor, the majority of the bathrooms was unsanitary similar to porter potties that you can’t flush, wash your hands properly, and some didn’t even have toilet paper. These are blessings that we in America take advantage of. We don’t even think of toilet paper being a blessing, we turn on our tap water and one handle turns the water hot and the other turns it cold, we have running water and electricity 24/7 just to name a few. When I got back to VA, a group of my friends and I donated just $10 every month for one year to help families. The idea was that if 10 people just donated $10 every month, a family in Afghanistan can get $100 every month that they can use towards food, hygiene products, toiletries, or basic needs. And that’s how we came up with the name Helping Families Monthly, because the idea was to help a family for a year. We originally helped just 2 families in 2019.
Now in 2020 right when COVID was hot, I was a mother to a 22 month old and a newborn. I decided to leave my IT job and stay at home to take care of my kids, but just 10 days later my husband got laid off due to a budget issue. We were both in IT and never thought we’d both be unemployed. We thought how bad can it be? Let’s apply for unemployment and food stamp. We never got food stamp, my newborn and were denied Medicaid even though I didn’t have any job or insurance, and the unemployment which we thought would give us 50% of our pay actually only gave us around $2000 per month total between my husband and I which was only enough for our rent. We didn’t have any money from the unemployment for our food, diapers, and other bills. The government failed us, especially me, a US citizen who had worked for the federal government for several years.
We started emailing nonprofit organizations for help with just diapers and food. Some didn’t reply to us, some didn’t service our area, and those that did help only gave us non perishables and a few diapers. Well that amount of diapers didn’t last our daughters the whole month, we couldn’t survive on just cereal or pasta the whole month and that without the milk or pasta sauce. Maybe there were organizations that gave people fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meat, or ethnic food but we didn’t come across any or maybe we didn’t know they exist because we were never in this situation before. No one asked me what did I really need?
That’s what made me realize we need a nonprofit that gives out ethnic food, fresh fruits, vegetables or halal meat. And that’s what makes us different. We ask each family to give us a list of items they will actually eat and use instead of giving them general items that they will not use, throw away or give it to someone else. We also don’t have a limit on how often a family can request for groceries.
So we legally registered and got our 501c3 status in September 2021 with the help of a pro bono lawyer.
We also have added more projects, and set up our own website, opened a separate bank account, PayPal, Zelle, and Facebook etc. I took a PMP booth camp since my background was in IT so I can manage my nonprofit better, I became a member of chamber of commerce so I can network and get our nonprofit name out there, I took a grant writing class so I can know how to write and ask for grants and that is on the top of our list to hopefully get our first grant soon.
It took a lot of hard work to get where we are now and I’m very happy of our accomplishments. We’ve been interview by Voice of America – Dari 2 times for our projects. Although the number of families we helped might be small compared to some of the larger nonprofit organizations, but we prefer quality over quantity and want to make sure we met the need or needs of 1 family before moving on to the next. And that’s something that we take pride on because all our projects and completed with hard work and quality in mind.