‘Sunday Friends’ Paves Road in Helping Others Help Themselves


Sunday Friends is far from your run-of-the-mill charity. Typically, charities provide necessities and assistance for families that are in need. Sunday Friends is located in San Jose, California, coined as an alternative to charity, takes an innovative approach focusing on providing opportunities for families to be able to provide their own needs.

Family members, never referred to as clients, earn tickets for various work they do in their own community. They participate in a wide range of activities, including writing thank you cards to donors, preparing healthy snacks for other members of the group, and making arts and crafts that are dispersed to children’s hospitals, senior centers, libraries, and soldiers in Afghanistan. Executive Director Michael Hobson comments on the activities, “In this way, they not only build a bond, while expressing gratitude, they also practice their literacy skills.”

There are also classes available for the adults that teach practical skills such as money management, health, and the English Language. Parents and children also assist in cleaning the school grounds and setting up program activities. Hobson says, “It’s their community, so they participate fully in all activities.”

Sunday Friends is always working towards creating programs that members can participate in so that they can “spend” their tickets on things they need. Last month, Sunday Friends hosted two back to school programs where children can earn and choose their own school supplies and backpacks. The idea is to teach the children what it means to value what they worked for and earned. Hobson sums it up, “We know they will take good care of their supplies because they worked for them. More importantly, they learned a valuable lesson long before the first school bell rang; that earning is more satisfying than just receiving.”

Later this month Michael Hobson will be participating in The Walk For Youth. This is a fundraiser that encourages participation by either sponsoring Hobson or entering the walk and obtaining sponsors. Fundraisers are a continuous effort by Sunday Friends to aid in costs as well as include the community in their efforts.

In October, a Rent Relief Project will run for another cycle. This project focuses on redeeming earned tickets for rent. Hobson talks about the success of the project “Over $25,000 has been paid directly to landlords to help provide one of the most basic necessities: housing.”

As you can see, Sunday Friends is paving the road in helping others help themselves. They are a group driven to provide people with valuable life lessons of giving back in order to receive, working hard for what you earn, and being proud of yourself for a job well done.

Sheree McDonald is a junior at Southern New Hampshire University studying Creative Writing with a minor in Professional Writing.