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When Norma Valle, a social assistance worker at OneWorld, learned that a Dec. 18 house fire had claimed everything a patient’s family owned, she sprang into action.

As the social assistance worker assigned to their case, Valle first tried to help the family of seven through the process of finding community resources. She called several organizations asking for help, but she was disappointed with their responses.

“One organization advised me that they were only able to give the family a certain amount, and it was not enough to pay for rent or new things,” Valle said. “The family was having a hard time getting in contact with another organization due to a language barrier. They tried to contact [the organization] several times, but they couldn’t find anyone who spoke Spanish. It seemed like it was taking quite a bit of time, and they had been sleeping on the floor for two weeks.”

Valle realized that, even with community resources, the family would need additional help to make ends meet. They needed everything from clothes and shoes to kitchen items and furniture. With the help of her supervisor, OneWorld’s behavioral health business manager, Lizette Orihuela, Valle sent an email to all OneWorld employees describing the situation and listing the family’s needs. Within a few days, she had “tons of emails” from employees reaching out with offers to help.

“They responded quite well,” Valle said. “I was amazed. OneWorld not only takes care of their patients as patients, but also as individuals in the community.”

Donated items such as clothes, kitchen items, toiletries and toys started filling Valle’s office space. After learning that the family was sleeping on the floor, an employee’s family even donated five beds.

“The employee’s wife asked what they needed, and, being straightforward, I said, ‘Well, they need a bed,’” Valle said. “She asked me how many, so I said ‘They need five, so if you could donate one, that would be amazing.’ … She sent me an email with the receipt an hour later. Five beds were ready for them.”

Valle has been delivering carloads of donated items to the family over the past few weeks, and the family has occasionally been able to pick up donations at the Livestock Exchange campus. According to Valle, the family is doing OK now, but they’ve encountered several disheartening setbacks after the fire.

Valle said that, hopefully, the father will be able to begin work soon, but until then, the family is surviving on limited resources. The family has a long road ahead of them, but with the help of the donations that continue to pour in from OneWorld, they can begin the process of recovery.

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