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United Way gives ‘hope’ a second chance for local family

August 31, 2017



It’s no small coincidence her name is Hope.

Single mother of five, Hope Barbari never lost faith when her life was on a downward spiral.

For many years, Hope and her children were emotionally and physically abused by her husband. Seeing the effect the tumultuous home had on her children, Hope decided it was time for them to leave. With only the clothes on their back — no job, no money, no furniture, no food — they moved in with her sister’s family in an already-crowded one-bedroom apartment.

“It was a dull and dreary picture,” Hope said. “I was at the bottom.”

Her children — Imaan, 6; Fatimah, 8; Asmaa, 10; Ibrahiem, 11; and Muhammed, 16 — were in a tough place, too, academically and socially.

“They checked out of just about everything,” she said. They struggled in school, exhibited bad behavior, and neglected their health and hygiene.

All of this started to change when Hope’s family was connected to Full Service Schools through Sandalwood High School’s guidance department.

Full Service Schools is a United Way of Northeast Florida-led initiative that works with community partners to connect students and families to a critical range of therapeutic, health and social services as well as addresses non-academic barriers to success in school.

Thanks to the Sandalwood Family Resource Center, a Full Service Schools site, Hope received counseling through Hubbard House, and all of her children received ongoing therapy in school through Jewish Family and Community Services, a United Way-funded partner.

Not only did the family receive much-needed mental-health support services, Full Service Schools also provided academic help for Hope’s children, plus extra toiletries, food and school supplies for the family.

“They took good care of us,” Hope said. “They are kindhearted people.”

Hope said her children now are all thriving. They are excelling academically, are more outgoing and their behaviors are a complete turnaround.

“You died in a sense,” said Hope of her family’s troubled past. “Doors have been opened that have the resources to give people a rebirth, another chance at life.”

Hope now does all she can to spread the word about the help she’s received from United Way and its partner agencies. To say “thank you,” she now volunteers her time for Hubbard House, Full Service Schools, Duval County Public Schools, Sheriff’s Watch, the JaxPAL Mentoring Program and United Way Speakers Bureau.

“It just made me go all out,” she said.

Hope and her family are just one example of the thousands of lives changed by Full Service Schools every year. Moreover, Full Service Schools is just one example of more than 80 initiatives supported by United Way of Northeast Florida and its partners in the areas of youth success, financial stability, health and basic needs.

When you support United Way, local lives are transformed, and Northeast Florida grows stronger.

How can you make a difference? Help us create a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can reach their full potential. Donate now to United Way of Northeast Florida — because change doesn’t happen alone.