“Bringing my kids to The Floating Hospital makes me feel like I am giving them the best services that New Yor City has to offer,” shared La’Shaun Singletary after her family’s visit. “Everything they need—even things that they want are here. It’s makes me feel like super mom!”
Singletary’s touching words about her family’s care at The Floating Hospital demonstrate something that makes our care model unique. Beyond access to healthcare, The Floating Hospital is able to provide families with the physical items needed to not just survive, but thrive.
For many mothers who come to The Floating Hospital, navigating the ever-changing bureaucracy of living in transitional housing at or below the poverty line makes life a daily obstacle course. Parents often arrive for medical appointments expressing a need for life’s basic necessities: food for their children, diapers, personal care items such as menstrual products and underwear, clothing for job interviews and socks and coats for their children.
As part of The Floating Hospital’s legacy of “whole healthcare,” we believe it is important for every single patient to leave our clinic feeling seen and heard. The Floating Hospital has a long history of relying on our neighbors to provide in-kind donations to help us meet our patients where they are and help us get them what they need to function.
Cynthia Davis, Director of Community Outreach, recalls one such superhero mom who arrived at The Floating Hospital wearing clothing she had found on the streets. When she left The Floating Hospital, it was with a big smile on her face; our in-kind donations enabled her to leave in a full outfit of brand-new clothes.
“Many women have cried and said they never get the chance to do anything for themselves anymore, because they are so focused on their kids,” shared Dr. Meghan Miller, who leads The Floating Hospital’s health education department. Miller thinks to the annual women’s empowerment events as especially meaningful moments when in-kind donations make an extra difference; mothers might receive their first brand new outfit, purse, or hair and makeup items in a very long time.
Oftentimes, in-kind donations can serve as another reminder of the limitless possibilities of the patients’ futures. Books, especially, empower families to think and dream without abandon. “We also get people in here who love to read and are so excited to see all the books we have,” shared Miller. “I’ve had a few older girls and women sit in the classroom and look through all our books and pile them up to bring them home.”
Davis notes other examples of The Floating Hospital’s donating abilities going above and beyond – even where other charities have fallen short. She described the moment a mother and daughter arrived at the clinic for a boot donation giveaway, not expecting to find shoes to fit the daughter’s size 10 feet. “These places never have shoes for her,” the mother had shared. But The Floating Hospital was different; Tanya Fisch, a member of The Floating Hospital’s foundation board was able to directly arrange for a well-fitting pair of shoes to the family.
While The Floating Hospital’s history of providing donated items to families in need dates back to our time on the open water, recent strains on the system in New York City have necessitated increased efforts to meet family’s needs. The ongoing migrant crisis, coupled with inflation and ever-growing costs of living, have meant more families needing everything from hygiene products to clothing, shoes, backpacks, and Halloween costumes.