Archive for the 'Stories of Hope and Courage' CategoryJuly 21, 2016
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit one of our partner feeding programs, The Woodbury Pantry. This incredible agency distributes 10,000 pounds of food that they pick up from Second Harvest Food Bank every Monday. That day, I had the pleasure of meeting a vibrant 73 year old woman named Cordie.
I noticed her right away. She walked slow and steady with a walker but had a big smile on her face and bright blue eyes. As she walked up to receive her number to receive food she stopped and said hello to every person she passed. Everyone knew Cordie, and I knew I wanted to know her too.
I sat down with her and we began talking. She told me that she was there to pick up food for her family of 4. Her and her three great grandkids ages 14, 11, and 8. She says that the kids keep her young but it is a struggle to make ends meet on her limited and fixed income. Her husband died over a year ago so it is just her and the little ones now. Cordie doesn’t just come to Woodbury for the food, but for companionship too. This community has helped her through many trying times.
I asked Cordie if she ever had to skip any meals in order to feed her great grandchildren. She then asked me “You ever have air puddin”? Read More …November 20, 2015
There’s a lot of incredibly negative news lately in our country and around the world. Divisiveness, verbal and physical attacks, wars with words and wars with bombs. We can easily get swept up into a feeling of despair and a loss of hope. Then there are experiences that feed the soul, I was fortunate to have one of those recently.
I had the privilege and opportunity to speak at UCF’s 22nd Annual Hunger Banquet that their Student Involvement Office organizes. As I made my way through the maze of buildings on the UCF campus I found my destination; the Student Union Building, at the very heart of the campus. I found it fascinating that in the main floor of that building is a giant food court offering a variety of different types of food….and this is where the “Hunger Banquet” is taking place. It was another reminder that food is typically at the center of things and is powerful in terms of drawing people together, whether it’s at school, home or at the office.
The room was filled with 200 – 250 students who are deeply interested in making the world a better place. Wow, talk about a good vibe. The group was split into three groups for dinner. Read More …November 19, 2015
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
For years Chelle stocked a miniature food shelf in her garage. She and her husband ran a daycare for low-income families. About three times a week someone would ask them for help. She led them to her garage and said take whatever you need. They had more than enough.
Then the economy crashed. Their daycare attendance dropped from 12 kids to 5, and their income from $4000 a month to less than $1000. In a matter of months, they were destitute.
One day Chelle opened up the fridge and it was empty. She really didn’t want to apply for food stamps, but she couldn’t let her little girl go hungry – even if it meant swallowing her pride. Chelle and her husband are hard workers, working usually 60 hours a week each just to barely keep their heads above water, but it still wasn’t enough. They needed help. “It is hard, but I am grateful to have food stamps. It’s nice to know my daughter is taken care even when we can’t fully provide for her on our own,” Chelle says.
Chelle continues to say that education is the only way she can think of to pull her family up out of poverty. Right now she am enrolled in graduate school full time – on top of operating the daycare. It’s her dream that when she graduates, Chelle and her family can be self-sufficient again. Not only that, but that they can give back again as well. Read More …May 28, 2015
For four months, 66-year old disabled widow Paula found herself with no electricity or running water in her apartment. Her $500 a month rent was past due, and with a fixed income of only $700, each month was a series of hard decisions. She had no way to get to the supermarket, and no money to buy groceries while she was there. For most of those four months, Paula was feeling rather hopeless.
Desperate to access any sort of help that might be available, she reached out to Delia, one of Second Harvest Food Bank’s Outreach Specialists, for assistance in filling out a SNAP food stamps benefit application. After hearing Paula’s story and helping her complete her application, Delia provided Paula with a $50 grocery gift card to help hold her over until she could be approved for benefits. Afterward, Delia simply couldn’t get Paula out of her mind. Read More …April 6, 2015
When I met Hector, he was feeling hopeless. A vet of the Air Force, Hector worked in the civil service industry for over 25 years, until a back injury started to deteriorate his health. Known for his kind heart and eagerness to help others, Hector provided support to both his parents and siblings, until recently, when his condition worsened, and affected his ability to continue working. Read More …