Usually I blog about the recruiting industry or share interviews I conducted with your fellow HR peers, but for this entry, I wanted to share a very special story in the spirit of the holidays.

Imagine not having hot water for months, or needing to get water from the neighbors in order to flush the toilet. Or, how about cramming four people into a small bedroom because the ceiling collapsed in your master bedroom? What if you came inside to get warm, only to discover your home no longer had heat? These conditions are what a family we’ll call the “Andersons” were coping with on a daily basis.

Things weren’t always like this. After the Andersons married, they decided to start a family and began the journey of adoption. After their application was approved, they traveled to the agency to adopt a “normal, healthy child.”

While waiting in the lobby, something caught them off guard – a catalogue of children and babies that nobody wanted. Mr. Anderson explained the cover actually read, “Nobody Wants These.” The agency said no “normal” children would be available for at least five years, but at that point it didn’t matter. Those words permanently affected the Anderson’s and they eventually adopted a seven- and three-month-old boy. Mrs. Anderson strongly believed that these children needed homes too regardless of not being “normal.”

Each child had a unique set of circumstances. One was in the hospital for the first six years of his life with several medical problems. He was only predicted to live to be six, but is now 27 years old. “I guess we’re doing something right” said Mrs. Anderson.

Over the years, several factors impacted their lives to the point where their electricity started going out and the family had no running water. Both Mr. and Mrs. Anderson began dealing with their own health concerns. Mr. Anderson’s challenges started with gout, followed by a stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Mrs. Anderson had heart issues and a form of diabetes, which still continues to cause infections and often keeps her off her feet. This made it difficult for her to fix the house as she wanted.

Despite the hurdles the past two decades presented them, the Andersons kept on trucking, ensuring their boys were engaged in activities such as social group, church and the Special Olympics. The entire family became fans of the hit television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and decided the show might help them in their circumstances. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson wanted desperately to give their family a good shelter where they could feel safe. With a little help, a video was made to submit to the network, but the mounds of paperwork slowed progress toward the required steps to get on the show.

Family friends within the Special Olympics were extremely concerned about the dire situation and reached out to the community, catching the attention of some DirectEmployers Association staff. After pulling together resources and donations, the Andersons were able to leave their deteriorating house behind (which was eventually appraised at $3,000) and move into a brand new mobile home. Several of the DirectEmployers staff also got together and rounded up more donations to buy them curtains, a microwave and gift card.

As a token of their gratitude, the boys personally colored and sent us the pictures below. When asked about how her boys have changed her life, she says with a twinkle in her eye, ”They’ve opened my life to a whole new world.” We like to believe that Mr. and Mrs. Anderson along with their children have opened our eyes to the true definition of kindness and how precious life is to us all.

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