In my daily trek to alleviate hunger in the Texas Panhandle and to make sure people have the services that they need. I hear many, many stories about the struggles people go through just to keep food on the table.
The stories are endless. I do not have to go into great detail to let you know that many have to make difficult decisions every day. Some are even a matter of life or death, choosing between groceries and medicine, while others simply go hungry themselves so their children can have plenty to eat.
Happy stories are few and far between but today, I was visited by a former client named Gilbert. I remember him, because when he landed in my office he was scared and embarrassed that he needed assistance. Gilbert had lost his job due to layoffs and as a middle aged man he was not having any luck finding a job. He just stopped by to tell me that after many, many months of tirelessly searching for a job, he had in fact landed one. He had successfully obtained a position with a great company and was offered good pay that had answered all his prayers. He is no longer receiving assistance but he proceeded to thank me over and over again for assisting him and his family while he searched for work.
Of course, he never wanted to apply for these services but was very thankful for the help and guidance. He is grateful that organizations like ours are there to help when you need them. My job is to increase awareness and participation of Texas state benefits such as SNAP (formerly food stamps); however, it's more than that. I make sure these individuals not only know what resources are available but to also make sure they understand what they need to do to get the help they need. I walk clients step by step through the process with dignity and respect. While telling us the good news of not needing the benefits, he talked about the shame he felt, but quickly reminded himself he needed to feed his family. It's these stories that really remind me why I do what I do.
Gilbert, it was my honor.