Sometimes a shopper who is transitioning from living in a shelter to more independent living will come to the food shelf with a community advocate. The day Kevin, a shy young man, came to Neighbors, Inc. with his advocate, Pat, is especially memorable. Pat explained he was retired and a volunteer who visited Kevin about three days a week to help with various tasks. As Kevin moved through the aisles selecting his food, Pat stood behind him making gentle suggestions when Kevin seemed uncertain about making food choices. The two men were an impressive team. When we reached the potato/rice section, Kevin chose a box of Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes. Pat said, “No, no, take the five pound bag of fresh potatoes instead. I’m going to show you at least five different things you can make with those.” Kevin rolled his eyes, but there was a sparkle in them when he asked, “Does that mean you’ll be coming over tomorrow to help me?”

It is possible to lift people out of poverty and homelessness. Pat’s time spent with Kevin  sends a message of friendship and hope. In so many unspoken ways it says, “You have not been forgotten and you are valued.” It gives Kevin the courage and perseverance to move forward into the future. All of us in this community who donate our time, food products, or money to Neighbors, Inc. are sending this same message to Kevin. We are neighbors helping neighbors.

Neighbors, Inc. is grateful for your generosity.

We would also like to thank Sue Hanebuth for writing up this story.  Sue is an amazing woman who does everything…including working at the food shelf, running out Menu Makers program and writing up client stories like this.