(NEWS10) – The pandemic has left many people in need, some of whom never had to ask for help before. Mr. Rogers said in times of trouble look for the helpers, like Jessica Brennan, the first of four “Remarkable Women” whose stories we’re sharing this month.
“There are lots of reasons why somebody might go through a hard time,” noted Jessica Brennan. “There could be a medical diagnosis, a car accident, a death in the family, the loss of a job, so it could happen to anyone.”
A social worker in the Niskayuna School District, Jessica has started programs to fill the gap, first with Nisky NOW (Nutrition On Weekends), a weekend nutrition backpack program.
“We supplement their household food for weekends and school vacations, and we are 100% volunteer run and we are run with funding just from our own community.”
She recently founded Nisky Attic, an anonymous way to share the needs of a student or family for anything from snowpants and winter boots to calculators for school.
“We post it confidentially on Facebook, and if someone in the community has that item we collect it in one of our bins,” Jessica shared. “We have a bin in every school then we wait for a few days for Covid precautions, then we distribute it right to the family who needs it. Both programs really connect people who have a need with people who want to help.”
For those who think of Niskayuna as a wealthy community with no one in need of help, Jessica is quick to point out, “Any one of us could be in a hard place at any time.”
NEWS10’s Lydia Kulbida asked Jessica, “Have you seen the need increasing over the past year because of the pandemic?”
“Absolutely our numbers actually doubled,” Jessica replied. “We are growing every week, there are more referrals coming in, some people find a new job and they say thank you you helped a lot, I’m all set now, so whatever people need we’re right there.”
Jessica is busy at home as well.
“I have four children, I’m fortunate I’m a birth mother, a foster mother and an adoptive mother so I feel very blessed, I have an amazing husband who, we’re a good team together.”
And for this team, lesson number one for their kids is the importance of giving back.
“It’s just a part of our lives and it’s the best gift I can give myself is to help others.”