by Brandi Sweet
Prosperity Center Coordinator, Five Parks Community Action Center

This is the story of one family served by the Five Parks Community Action Center, a United Way of Salt Lake Neighborhood Center, operated by the Salt Lake Community Action Program.


Tina is a 38-year-old single mother with two teenage boys ages 16 and 14.  Tina has lived in the Byde-A-Wyle Hacienda community served by the Five Parks Community Action Center for 12 years.  With limited and sporadic support from the boys’ father, Tina has independently been the sole emotional and financial provider for her two children.  Tina works full-time or more to make ends meet for her family, but financially she is unable to provide much.  This holiday season, Tina and her family received a surprise gift card from a United Way of Salt Lake donor for $100, which she described as “a godsend.”

Tina has an Associate’s Degree as a Medical Assistant, which she received seven years ago.  She worked full-time and went to school at night for three years to obtain her degree.  Despite this, Tina has been unable to find a job in her field of study.   To make ends meet, Tina has been working since she graduated from college in the service industry. Additionally both of Tina’s boys suffer from medical conditions that require costly medications.  Tina does not have medical insurance through her employer. “My oldest son just had his fourth surgery three weeks ago,” she said.  “He suffers from a painful condition called Mersa.”  Her other child suffers from chronic asthma and needs inhalers, steroid treatments, and other expensive medications during asthmatic attacks.

“When I received the call about the gift card donated through United Way of Salt lake, I can’t tell you how relieved I was,” she said.  Prior to the call, Tina didn’t expect to be able to provide much for her children.  “They are teenagers and they are asking for very expensive gifts, like sports jerseys that cost $90.  I had to tell them that there is no way that they are ever going to get something like that for Christmas,” she said.  “At least with the gift card that I received, I was able to get them each a little something.  Each received a pair of new jeans, some boxers, and some small stocking-stuffers.  It’s not what they dreamed of getting, but they at least had something to open on Christmas morning and it’s something that both of them really need,” she said.

United Way of Salt Lake and an anonymous donor truly made the holidays memorable! It is amazing how much these acts of kindness and giving can do for a family, not only during the holidays, but year round.

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