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At OneWorld, we know that the holidays can be difficult for some of the families who come to us for care. Many patient families are already struggling to afford basic necessities like food and clothing, so spending money on things like gifts or decorations is out of the question.

Thanks to the generosity of OneWorld employees, though, some of our patient families who are most in need will receive a little extra help for the holidays this year.

As Nikki West, a social assistance worker, began her work at OneWorld, she learned that the yearly tradition of having a “social work holiday tree” had not happened in 2017. She decided to revive the tradition this year, so she got to work selecting benefitting families, decorating the tree with the families’ holiday requests and coordinating the gift delivery process.

The tree was stationed in a OneWorld employee break room in early December, and any employees who were interested could take an ornament (a paper tag with a family’s request written on it), purchase the requested item and return it to the break room as a wrapped present.

“I think the tree was created because the workers saw that there were so many families who were enduring some pretty traumatic situations and were needing extra assistance,” West said. “I was only going to do one family at first, but then I expanded it to four, just because those four families were in definite need.”

After selecting the four families from referrals, West met with them to gather information about their family dynamics and living situations to gauge their needs. According to West, it was “humbling to see” how much this year’s referred families needed the items they requested.

“Not one of the family members asked for a toy,” she said. “Not one. It was all clothing, food, toiletries … Three of the families need beds and furniture, because they’re sleeping on floors and mattresses …The first family that I chose was fleeing a domestic violence situation, and they came immediately to OneWorld for care and knew that they could use us for support … They’re one of the families who had nothing.”

According to West, all the selected families have expressed “so much gratitude” and “such love and appreciation for OneWorld.” West and her team plan to present the families with their gifts at OneWorld’s South Omaha campus just before Christmas. If the families are unable to transport any larger items, West plans to work with OneWorld’s transportation team to coordinate deliveries as needed.

“It’s just been such a team effort,” she said. “You can tell that the providers and all the other staff members want to contribute the most that they can and do all that they can. They see more than just the medical needs when they’re in those exam rooms, so it’s really just using our integrated care model to work on those social determinants of their health. Our mission is coming to life as we all collaboratively work together.”

Anyone interested in supporting OneWorld’s social work tree this holiday season can contact Nikki West at (402) 734-4110 ext. 1320 or at nwest@oneworldomaha.org. In addition to monetary gifts and basic necessities like food, clothing and toiletries, West is accepting new and gently used furniture for the families in need.

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