Monday, January 16, 2017

Reflecting on Why

January is a time when many people remember the lessons of the past and look hopefully toward the future. It is important that we share these reflections, to prompt conversation around issues like hunger. We hope you will #ShareYourStory with us, like this one--written by our own Individual Giving Manager, Merry.

I think it’s important to take time to think about why. Why you care about something, why you help, why certain things are intolerable to you.

Today I’m reflecting on why I work at Foodshare, and you may be surprised at the reason.

Although it makes me feel good to help others, that’s not why I chose this work. With the short time I have on this earth, it makes me feel useful. It makes me feel like I’m spending my time wisely.

When I was 10 years old, my father died suddenly and my family was left devastated. We had no income, no plan, and no support since we had moved halfway across the country for my father’s career. My mother had no idea what to do, so we moved back east and tried to make a new life while working through our grief.

I will never forget the fear of sitting down to the dinner table. What had once been a fun-filled Italian family affair, had become quiet and filled with warnings of “this is all we have – so make it last.” A feeling I couldn’t quite understand, and something no parent or child should ever have to experience.

“Trying” to feed your family seems like a horrible contradiction to me. It should be a given that if you live, you eat, but it’s not. That is why I work at Foodshare. My mother was faced with the harsh realities of life, but she either didn’t know there was help to be had, or we didn’t want to admit we needed it.

It’s been 34 years since my father died, and we all still feel the grief, and the remains of a lifestyle changed overnight. I am lucky I can afford food for my family now, but I struggled to get to this point. I have no illusions that it can’t or won’t happen to me again. For any one of us, things can change overnight.  

And one day, should I need help, I will know I have a place to go—where people care enough to help me get back on my feet again. In the meantime, I’ll be useful. I’ll spend my time wisely, making sure Foodshare has what it needs to keep as many hungry people fed as possible. And I will be sure to say thank you as many times as I can to the people who help—those who care enough to give time and money for their own reasons—because no one should have to fight this battle alone.

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