From time to time, staff from the Second Harvest Food Bank’s agency relations department like to drop in on our partner feeding programs to understand the logistics of their distribution and also to interact first hand with our clients. Recently, I stopped by a local pantry run by a primarily Hispanic church called L’englise Evangillique.
I arrived a half hour before the distribution was due to start. As I walked across the street to the white painted building on the side of the church, which is the location of the pantry, I was spotted by an older woman in her late sixties holding an empty cardboard box. Although cheerful, it was obvious she had seen the more difficult side of life. She said hello, smiled at me, and told me where the line was. I told her thank you but that I was with Second Harvest and that I was just here to check in and see how things were going.
She looked at me. In her broken English, she said “You. You from Second Harvest?”
“Yes” I said.
I was unprepared for her reaction. She grabbed my arm tightly, lifted her head, and closed her eyes. Tears came down her face and she was unable to speak for a few moments.
“You” She said. “You are my angel!” Brushing away her tears she said, “My husband left me. My kids are grown and all live in Cuba. I had nothing. Because of you I have food!” She stated she worked as much as she could but still didn’t have money for food. She pointed to a lady close by and said she had just found a place to live with her. She motioned this person came over. “He is my angel!” she shouted, pointing to me. When it was time to leave, I thanked her and she gave me a huge hug that lasted for ages. I left terribly grateful for that experience.
This obviously had nothing to do with me and everything to do with all of the amazing folks at Second Harvest as well in our Partner Agencies. Everyone who doesn’t get to see clients first hand need to know she was talking directly to them as well.
In my short time here, I’ve learned there is so much need. There is vast hunger insecurity in the poor and working poor. And we do an amazing job in servicing this need. But I learned we do so much more. We had given more than food. We had restored hope. We had restored a sense of dignity. We had given someone in a difficult space peace of mind.
What an amazing place to work.
Agency Relations Coordinator