Taking in people who need help in times of need is part of Marisa D’Amour’s DNA. Her mom, a schoolteacher in Harlem, grew up in foster care and as an adult, became a foster parent herself. Marisa grew up with foster siblings, learning early on the importance of sharing and helping others.
Today, she and her husband Rockfield live in west metro Atlanta, where she’s an attorney and he’s a student affairs coordinator. They have a daughter, 6-year-old Brooke, but in keeping with family tradition, they open their home to those who need a place and a family environment.
“I never know who I’m taking home with me,” she said. “We focus a great deal of attention on high school students and young adults. When we meet someone that has a dream but isn’t sure how to make it a reality we go all in. My husband has mentored young men on everything from managing their finances to applying for technical college and making it through their classes once accepted. We have had guests stay for free while completing college and while they were in between jobs.”
The young people who stay with her and her family come to them through word of mouth, rather than via an official, institutional process, and they don’t receive any sort of assistance.
But thanks to ABC’s “The Chew,” in conjunction with T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods, the D’Amours’ holiday gathering will be completely taken care of. The family recently visited the show and learned, to their happy surprise, that they would be recipients of the “Gift My Gathering” campaign.
“The thing Marisa embodies, family, is so important,” said “The Chew” co-host Carla Hall, seen in the photo above with the family during their recent appearance on the show. It airs locally at 1 p.m. weekdays on Channel 2. “It’s all about having the gift of each other. That’s why I love this campaign.”
Some of the D’Amours’ visitors stay a few weeks and some stay a year or more. Their celebration brought together folks from near and far, who have become family over the years. Not only was Marisa thrilled to be gifted with a party, complete with decorations and refreshments, but she also was overjoyed to learn T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods were her benefactors. Shopping as an unofficial foster mom means lots of unexpected expenses, and the stores popular with bargain hunters help her stretch her dollars when she needs it the most.
As someone who gives so tirelessly to others, Marisa said it felt a little odd to be on the receiving end.
“We don’t look for anyone to give us anything,” she said.
The D’Amours’ humble spirit made treating them all the more exciting, Hall said.
“I know in the audience everyone just loved it,” she said. “Here this person is so giving. It just melted my heart.”
The Gift My Gathering campaign continues beyond Thanksgiving, and submissions will be accepted through Nov. 28. See this link for details.