Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Elaine's story: Pantry client turned volunteer

Elaine at her volunteer station
As a client of Second Harvest Food Bank's Family Harvest program, Elaine shares the food she receives with her 14-year old son. When the opportunity arose to help out, she jumped at the chance and started volunteering at the Family Harvest distribution site in Pacifica.

“The Pacifica Resource Center has helped me so much that it just felt right to give back.”

“I’ve seen lots of families with well-standing jobs and I see the pain in their eyes when they come here. If I can help comfort them through this, then I feel good.” Elaine works the bread table during the Family Harvest distribution.

Recovering from drug and alcohol use, Elaine had been working as both a house cleaner and caterer to make ends meet. Unfortunately, she suffered a back injury while cleaning, and relapsed. During this difficult time and against the odds, Elaine found the strength to face the reality of her situation. The idea of asking for help was difficult, but as she says, “I had to bite the bullet. In my family, we were brought up not to ask, but the Resource Center was so wonderful. I love them. They made it easy.”

Elaine looks forward to the protein items such as chicken, cheese, and eggs. “We don’t always get it, but when we do, it’s so great. The milk is wonderful!” The fresh fruits and vegetables have allowed her to become more creative when cooking meals.

“Just knowing that Family Harvest is there. That the P.R.C. is there. Just knowing that they exist is a relief. I look forward to every month’s distribution because I know I can hold out ‘til then and if I was in a tough spot, I could go to the P.R.C. pantry.”

She knows it means a lot to the other families, too. She sees them waiting in line, looking stressed and nervous, and then leave in smiles. She sees these distributions as a time to share with her community. “Everyone gets involved. Even the kids! And everyone, you can tell, is just so thankful to get that food.”

A young client shares a moment with a volunteer at the Pacifica distribution.
The Pacifica Resource Center is one of 316 non-profit agencies taking part in Second Harvest Food Bank's Food Assistance Program (FAP).