“In my life, there’s never been anybody to help my family and me in troubling times.”

That’s what Bridgeport resident Jermaine Foster said to me recently at a Career Resources holiday luncheon and gift-giving event.

Jermaine’s wife suddenly died last month, leaving behind their nine children from their blended family. Jermaine is looking for work. Times are tough for Jermaine and his family this holiday season. Very tough.

But the people of greater Bridgeport stepped up to help Jermaine and his children. Donations from the community were gathered. People chose to get involved rather than turning away. They spared what they could. They offered to help in the smallest of ways.

This led to a pre-Christmas gathering of friends and volunteers at Career Resources, an organization which operates on the principles of accountability and positive outcomes and a place which lifts up those whose job fortunes have taken a bad turn. At Career Resources, barriers to successful employment are immediately addressed. The support, drive and skills to succeed in the workplace are instilled into every client.

The result: The donations gathered were enough to purchase Christmas presents for Jermaine’s entire family.

Afterward, as Jermaine looked at all the gifts, I asked him what he thought.

“Normally, I wouldn’t expect anybody to help,” he said. “But this event just proved to me that people actually do care. There are people in the world who actually think about people other than themselves. Compassion. Open-heartedness. Kindness. Those are the things we need right now.”

Better than any public service announcement campaign, and more effective than any Hallmark Card sentiment, Jermaine summed up the Christmas spirit. He put a human emphasis point on the reason for the season.

He concluded with this:

“I was in a bad position. This has been a tragic time. But what I see here is hope. It shows a different view of the world. It’s not the world I’m used to seeing.”

To all who spread hope and kindness at this time of year and all year round, I hope Jermaine Foster’s words spur you to keep doing what you are doing.

It matters.

Sen. Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. He can be reached at 800 842-1421 and at Tony.Hwang@

cga.ct.gov . On the web: www.SenatorHwang.com