Many of us have experienced the chaos of the holiday season — rushing to get every gift wrapped on time, navigating large family gatherings, standing in lines and circling parking lots, and trying not to overspend.
Now imagine facing the stress of the holidays with a disability. An empty bank account. A mental illness.
As president and CEO of Lutheran Services in Iowa, one of the state’s largest human services providers, I’m reminded each day of my fellow Iowans who are struggling this time of year.
For Iowans with disabilities, confronting the bustle and crowds to shop for holiday groceries or gifts may be challenging, and large family gatherings overwhelming.
Former refugees new to our state might struggle as they adjust to a new language and climate.
Iowans facing financial hardship may find it difficult to afford gifts.
Children in foster care or residential treatment may wake up on Christmas morning away from home. Others might spend the day in shelters, waiting for a foster home to become available.
Mental illness can make many of us feel anxious, depressed, or inadequate as we juggle the expectations of the holiday season.
At LSI, our compassionate team of more than 1,100 employees wraps care around Iowans who need a shoulder to lean on this holiday season.
Across the state, we provide education and family safety services, support Iowans with disabilities, recruit foster parents, empower Iowans through mental and behavior health services, welcome former refugees as they build a life in Iowa, and collaborate with generous Iowa donors and churches to meet many, many more needs.
LSI serves thousands of children, adults, and families each year. But you don’t have to be in social work to make a difference.
Volunteer at a local church or community center and serve a free holiday meal. Make a financial donation to your favorite local organization. Reach out to a loved one and ask what you can do to make their day a little better.
Let’s join together this holiday season.
John Twardos is the president and CEO of Lutheran Services in Iowa, a statewide human services agency. He can be reached at John.Twardos@LSIowa.org.