Finding passion Through Hard times
When she was at her lowest, Anita kept her head down and avoided eye contact. She felt ashamed for needing help. She wondered how things had gotten to this point.
Anita had never struggled to pay bills or put a meal on the table. With a job as an insurance agent, she had a steady paycheck. Everything started to change when she began to have back problems. After months of pain and a failed surgery, Anita had no choice but to quit her job and apply for disability. This change in her life was abrupt—and it scared her.
“I was an empty nester, I got divorced, and then I had the disability. It all hit within three months of each other,” Anita shared.
Looking for a cheaper place to live, Anita found an apartment in Gainesville, Missouri. She did not plan to stay long, but then she found Ozark County Food Pantry, one of The Food Bank’s 270 hunger-relief partners.
Anita’s first trip to the pantry was a favor to a neighbor. She was only there to help him carry groceries to his car, but she found the support she didn’t know she was looking for. The volunteers at the pantry helped her feel welcome and loved. That day, she brought home a bag of groceries for herself.
“I think he knew that I wouldn’t go unless it was really to benefit him,” Anita explained. “But it really helped me, too.”
After she no longer had to worry about buying food, Anita was able to buy household items like laundry detergent and shampoo. She also found ways to give back to those who had helped her.
“Because of the pantry, I had a few extra dollars in my purse that I could give to my neighbor for taking me wherever I needed to go when my car wouldn’t run,” Anita said.
With each trip to the pantry, Anita started to come out of her shell. She formed friendships with the volunteers, and one day, Anita asked the manager if she could help out. She wanted to help others the way she had been helped.
Now, Anita is the manager of Ozark County Food Pantry, and she easily relates to the hundreds of families who walk through the doors.
One day, Anita helped a woman get food, who repeatedly asked, “And I get this too? And I can have this?”
“By the time she got to the end of the line, we were both crying,” Anita said. “It’s hard to ask for help when you’ve been self-sufficient.”
Over the past few years, Anita’s time at the food pantry has been relaxing and fulfilling.
“When I go and do that service for others, there’s no longer that paycheck, trying to get ahead or trying to promote myself,” Anita shared. “Now I am doing the work in service to others, and the payback is seeing people get the help they need.”
Anita achieved food security and found her passion, thanks to the generosity of donors like you. When you support the work we do, you help people like Anita flourish because they no longer have to worry about putting food on their tables.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is sending more and more first-time food recipients to pantries across the Ozarks. We hope they feel as welcome as Anita did. We are so thankful for your loyalty that continues to help neighbors through challenges of all kinds.