The Most Humbling Year of My Life


COVID-19 Pandemic

In my 25 years of working with children and families, there are moments that will always humble me.

  • A mother reaching out for someone to give her child a warm bed and a hot meal when she cannot—humbling.
  • A social worker calling because a single mother was in a car accident and will need to be hospitalized. It is either leave her children with us, complete strangers, or foster care—humbling.

I worked in social services during the Great Recession in the late 2000s. I witnessed for the first time, middle-class families reaching out for help. They had the American Dream—owned a home, two cars, were married, maybe their children went to a nice private school. And in what seemed like a moment, everything was gone. Both parents were laid off. Their house value had declined so much that there was no point in trying to save it. They were trying to navigate a welfare system that was overloaded with new applicants. They did not understand why they were being turned down for services that they needed and deserved. Those years were humbling.

But out of them all, 2020 has impacted me the most, both personally and professionally. On a personal level, I miss my family and friends. I too miss the carefree way that I used to move around society and spend time with people. I miss not being afraid for myself, my family, friends, and most of all our children staying in, and staff working at, the Nursery.

Nothing could have prepared me for leading an organization during a pandemic. The quick lockdown. The quick response. Creating plans to keep our children and staff safe from exposure while remaining open. The quick revisions as new information was coming out from the CDC and medical experts.

The calls from the community. Parents not being able to find diapers, food, formula, baby clothes, toiletries. Everything was shutting down or selling out, and their last hope was us. The quick shift from running an emergency shelter to a food and diaper pantry. Within a week, we are now giving out thousands of diapers and hundreds of bags of food to families.

The hope that brought light into our worlds in late summer as COVID numbers declined. Could this almost be over? Are we almost out of the woods? Can we all come out now and play in the world safely? No. Once again we are sheltered in place. Families were once again put out of work and scared about how they are going to pay the rent, put food on the table, and clean diapers on their baby.

It has been a year. The stories of what our parents and children are going through, and surviving, humbles me daily. It humbles me that they call us for help and trust that we will be here for them.

I have also been grateful. One Sunday afternoon, I sat at our office waiting for donors to drop off holiday gifts for families. One by one, they showed up with the most amazing presents. And presents for the parents as well—robes, clothes, gift cards, and what must have been on everyone’s list a blue tooth speaker. I teared up. One by one I cried a little, so thankful for everyone’s support and the smiles that they would bring to the families who received their generosity.

To all of you who have given diapers, toys, clothing, gift cards, and the thousands of donations we have received in goods from you this year, I cannot thank you enough! You have made a difference in people’s lives.

The economic slowdown has hit small businesses, and yes nonprofits such as the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. While we have seen an increase in goods being donated, we have seen a decrease in individual giving. And we understand why. We are now helping some of our previous donors as clients. We will continue to serve everyone who comes to us needing support. And I will continue to be humbled by every ask for help.

If you are in a place to give this year, we humbly ask you for your support. We can do it, but not on in-kind donations alone. Please consider a donation to the Nursery this year and help us keep our doors open.


Tara Bartholomew
Executive Director