Faces of Hope – Wendy and Linda

Waiting for their turn to receive food, Linda and Wendy sat together at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby of the Wilson Food Pantry. They laughed over family stories, shared life experiences, and talked about their struggles. To anyone around them, these two seemed like they’ve been friends for years.

 

It turns out, Linda and Wendy met just minutes before the pantry doors opened that morning.

 

Wendy lives in Wernersville with her family and relies heavily on Wilson Food Pantry to help them get by.

 

“We get hungry, my family and me.” Wendy explained. “I come here because the food at the grocery store keeps going up. It’s               just too much for our limited means.”

 

Linda’s story is a little different. She no longer has a family to provide for, but the world still seems to be working against her these days.

“I’m a widow” Linda said as she looked down at her feet. “It’s just me. My son died two years ago from cancer and my daughter             was murdered in 2002. But they took my food stamps away since I don’t have a mortgage anymore. I used to get $191 in food             stamps. Now I get $15.”

 

With just $15 to supplement her limited food budget, Linda has found great comfort in knowing that she can rely on the Wilson Food Pantry for assistance. She counts on the meats, vegetables, and canned goods to help her get by, not to mention the good company she finds in others who wait with her to receive food.

“All the food is really great and the vegetables always look good. I’m kind of a picky eater so I only take the veggies that I’ll                   eat,” said Wendy. “I don’t want to take from people who like it more. I may be poor but I still have things I like and don’t like.”

Drive Away Hunger Match Campaign

Help Us “Drive Away Hunger”

Hi! My name is Speed Bump and I’m searching for a home.

 

I come from a long line of delivery trucks who have helped make our community a better place. My mom was a mail truck who helped deliver important mail to our community, my dad was an ambulance and helped deliver sick people to the hospital and my brother helps deliver the equipment being used to rebuild the Penn Street Bridge in Reading.

 

Now it’s my turn to step up and help make our community a better place and I think that helping to nourish the hungry would be a perfect job for me!

 

Rumor has it that Greater Berks Food Bank is in need of new truck to deliver fresh and nutritious foods through their Mobile Market and Mobile Direct programs.

 

The trouble is, Greater Berks Food Bank needs to raise $100,000 between July 1 and December 31 before they can welcome me onto their team.

 

I’ve heard that an anonymous donor is going to donate $1 for every $4 donated to my campaign! That’s so generous!

 

But there’s a catch! 49% of those donating to the campaign must be new donors (donors who haven’t donated in 2 or more years).

 

Please, please, PLEASE help me find a new home at Greater Berks Food Bank! I want to carry on the Bump Family tradition by helping those in need and delivering more than 600,000 pounds of nutritious food to the hungry in our community each year is the perfect way to do it!

 

Ways to Donate

1.) Donate via our website (https://berksfoodbank.org/donate/)

Be sure to type “Drive Away Hunger” on the dedication line or your donation will not go to this campaign.

2.) You may also mail in donations in the envelope provided.

Write “Drive Away Hunger” on the envelope or on your check so that it counts for the campaign!

Thank you so much for helping me join the family business and make a difference in our community!

 

Yours truly,

Speed Bump

Faces of Hope – Jerry

Not everyone who visits the food pantry is unemployed. In fact, most are employed, sometimes with two or three jobs, but can’t seem to keep up.

 

Jerry is a father of two and is experiencing the detriment of rising expenses as he does his best to provide for his family.

 

“Ya know, things aren’t as cheap as they used to be,” he said during his wait in the lobby of the Wilson Food Pantry.

 

Jerry and his family are thankful for the food pantry. The extra support allows them to spend a little less at the grocery store and use the extra money where it’s needed.

 

With a daughter who just graduated from college and has dreams of working in Government and another daughter getting ready to finish high school, Jerry has found it extremely important to instill in them that hard work is required to make it in this world.

 

“These days, you have to have a career to get by. That means getting a degree and working hard to make a career for yourself.” Jerry and his family are so thankful for the extra support the food pantry provides.

 

“Every little bit helps. Especially when you’re doing your best but your best  just isn’t enough.”

Faces of Hope – John & Lisa

Your continued generosity has helped community members, like John and Lisa, get by in trying times.

Once every month, siblings Lisa and John travel the 11 miles it takes to get from their farm in Ranshaw to the Christ’s Cupboard Food Pantry in Ashland.

 

Every month they sit and wait with 100 other people for their turn to go through the line and choose the produce, dairy, meats, and nonperishable foods that they count on to make ends meet day to day.

 

For their entire life, John and Lisa have lived on the same farm in Ranshaw, PA. It was there that they helped their parents with daily chores, played with their four other siblings, and where they still reside today.

 

“We didn’t know we were poor,” John said as he sat with Lisa at a long white table surrounded by many others waiting to receive food.

 

Over the years, their siblings moved out and their parents passed away but John and Lisa still remained taking care of the farm that has been home for as long as they can remember.

 

“It wasn’t until everyone was gone that we realized we were poor.” said John.

 

John had plans of staying home to take care of the farm while his sister went to work. Unfortunately, the cost of living was too much for Lisa alone. Money got tight and John’s plans had to change. John worked for many years with ACME Markets while Lisa held a number of jobs as a cleaner, factory worker, green house keeper, and truck driver.

In 2003, John suffered from an anxiety attack and had to make the tough choice to stop working. A couple of years later, Lisa’s health declined and she had to give up working as well.

 

Today, John and Lisa rely on Social Security and Disability in order to get by.

 

In an effort to make ends meet, they visit Christ’s Cupboard Food Pantry for food assistance. They appreciate the variety of options. GBFB is proud to be able to assist such hard working individuals by providing Christ’s Cupboard with a majority of the food supplied to their recipients.

 

“Ya know what?” John said as he looked to his sister.

 “We’re lucky though to be able to come here. We’re getting by real good.”

Volunteer Hours for Students

Are you a student looking to complete some extra volunteer hours? Are you interested in giving back to your community? Join us this summer and help feed the hungry! We offer countless volunteer hours over the summer, many different ways to volunteer, AND we will sign volunteer hour forms.

 

Bring friends, family, clubs, whomever! The summer is a fantastic time to help those in need in our community and gain a few extra volunteer hours. Schools require them and colleges love them!

 

Give us a call or visit our website today!

Faces of Hope – Jim

Your loyalty to making positive change makes a difference at Keystone Military Families food pantry.

Jim, a resident of Shoemakersville, has found himself relying on the Keystone Military Families Pantry for help with food assistance. Like many of the veterans who visit the pantry, Jim has put a lifetime of dedication and loyalty into protecting our country but now, as a veteran, must seek assistance from pantries to make ends meet.

 

Jim has had a lifetime of experiences that have given him the opportunity to live and work across the country.

“Back in the 70s I served in the Army, and after that I was a truck driver, cross country, for a while,” Jim explained as he sat in a rickety chair by the entrance to the pantry. “…then I got out of that and went to construction and did that for a while…and then I worked as a dry wall mechanic for some time.”

 

In 2014 and again in 2016, Jim suffered from mini strokes causing a number of injuries that still affect him today.

“I fell and bumped my head and had bleeding on the brain so now I can’t do as much as I used to.”

Today, Jim has turned to the Keystone Military Families for some help with food assistance.

“It’s great to come here for help. I hate to, but I do need some help here and there. And these guys are great,” he said with a smile         as he gestured to the volunteers working around the pantry.

Each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, Keystone Military families opens its doors for local veterans to come and receive food provided by Greater Berks Food Bank and other amenities that they might need.

Everything from protein, to vegetables, cereal, coffee, and baby supplies are available to customers at the Keystone Military Families pantry.

Faces of Hope – Wilson

Wilson

Your generosity has an incredible effect on those we serve. Take Wilson, a retired industrial worker. Retirement has taken a real financial toll on his life.

Wilson has been forced to deal with the reality that medical bills for both he and his wife are going to consume a large amount of their savings – savings they were planning to spend on groceries.

After losing his leg to diabetes, Wilson has had to become accustom to life with a prosthetic leg. But this slight set back has not stopped him from doing what is necessary to make ends meet.

Wilson’s wife is wheelchair bound and relies a tremendous amount on her husband.

“Since retirement I’ve had to come here,” Wilson explained

For the past five months, Wilson has waited on Wednesday mornings, sometimes for more than an hour, with many others to receive food assistance.

When asked what his favorite foods are to receive from the pantry, Wilson talked about the vast selection of protein that he enjoys the most.

“But I look for stuff for my wife too. I look for stuff for her because I worry about her. She’s in a wheelchair with no legs. That’s why I come here and get stuff for her. I’m sure if she could walk, she would come with me too.”

Faces of Hope – Reading Rec

 

The Rec

Greater Berks Food Bank is fortunate enough to work with a number of aftercare programs to ensure that students who do not have the opportunity elsewhere receive healthy and delicious foods in their daily diet.

One of these programs includes the 3rd and Spruce Recreation Center – a home away from home for many children living in the city of Reading. Year round, Director Heather Boyer opens her doors to students ranging in grade from 1st to seniors in high school. After school, students make their way to “The Rec” were they receive homework help, participate in a number of clubs and activities, and receive a warm meal and plenty of snacks.

Living a healthy lifestyle is a leading lesson that The Rec team strives to instill in their students through club and activity participation. The Rec offers clubs such as Little Ladies Club, Leadership Club, Girl Scouts, and Grub Club.

“Grub Club is our nutrition education club. We call it ‘Grub Club’ to disguise the healthy part.” Director Heather Boyer said with a chuckle. “We go by the NRPA guidelines of foods of the month.”

 

Each week, the students learn to make a new and healthy recipe with food provided by GBFB.

 

“We eat almost everything that’s healthy here,” shared a student as they sat and chatted about the food they eat at The Rec. “We made asparagus, and flavored water, and shrimp in Grub Club!”

“And last time, we made yogurt with peanuts and strawberries,” a fifth grader shared as she described the parfaits they learned to make a few months earlier.

For many students, exposure to healthy foods and how to prepare them comes only from their time at The Rec.

The students talked about how the healthy foods they eat at The Rec make them feel.

“If you eat fruit,” a young boy explained, “your body isn’t so tired.”

In February, The Rec hosted a Healthy Super Bowl Party for their students. Students prepared and enjoyed homemade guacamole, healthy nachos, salsa, spinach dip, and fresh veggies.

“I made the guacamole! It was so good!” said a second grade student.

Many of the foods the students eat at The Rec are not foods they have an opportunity to try at home. When asked what their favorite healthy foods are, many agreed that avocado, mango, and pineapple were at the top of their lists.

Director Heather Boyer goes the extra mile to provide her students with the knowledge they need to maintain a healthy diet far beyond their time at The Rec. Incorporating healthy foods into a growing child’s diet is incredibly important and GBFB is proud to provide these healthy foods to The Rec and support such a fantastic program.

Faces of Hope – April

 

Growing up a child of the foster care system, the only consistency in April’s life was the knowledge of inconsistency. Due to constant uprooting, April never had a place that felt like home.

Thankfully, that has changed and today she is happy to call Reading her home.

For April and many others, the sad truth is that finding home does not always come without trial.

For years, April has received food assistance from the food pantry at New Journey Community Outreach Inc and for the past year she has given her time as a volunteer.

Each Wednesday morning, April arrives bright and early to help unload the GBFB truck, set up food, and distribute to those in need.

“I just felt like I wanted to be around people and I didn’t want to get food for nothing. I felt like I needed to work for my food,” she explained.

Making enough income to support herself has been a constant struggle for April so she is forced to turn to New Journey and food stamps for help.

“You only get $15 in food stamps. You gotta do what you gotta do,” she admitted as she looked at the food on the table in front of her. “I like the milk,” she said, picking up a jug of 2%, “I haven’t had to buy milk yet this month because I can get it here.”

With a goal of one day having enough to afford her own groceries, April does her best not to waste what she feels lucky to receive.

“Look at those people who are less fortunate and can’t even get to a food pantry…I would love to one day help them.”

Faces of Hope – Stories of the People we Serve

“Faces of Hope – Stories of the People we Serve” was created in hopes of bridging the gap between those who donate their time to GBFB and those who receive assistance. Our hope is that this series will provide our readers with a greater sense of human connection and emotional meaning behind the work they do with GBFB and the assistance they provide.

Some stories will inspire, some will enlighten, and some may even pull at your heart strings.

It is important as donors, volunteers, and community activists that we understand how our work and our time is impacting those in our community. It is equally as important that those we serve get a chance to tell their stories.

This series will introduce you to a small fraction of the people who seek assistance from programs associated with GBFB and will allow the opportunity to get a glimpse into their lives and who they are as individuals.

Interviews from the “Faces of Hope – Stories of the People we Serve” series will be posted on the News and Events page of our website, as well as in our quarterly newsletter and in our E-Updates.