You Never Know Where You May End Upby Montgomery Area Food Bank on 02/12/14
The 12th Annual Russ Reid Conference has been a one of a kind experience to learn from other food banks across the country and grow. Some of us have been with non-profits our whole lives and, whether we know it or not, the need to serve others has been at the forefront of our own personal mission.
Very rarely, we get the chance to hear personal stories of food insecurity that hit so close to home that we stop and consider- 'that could've been me', or 'that sounds like someone I know'. It is too often that these 'Stories of Hope' don't jar our senses to the point that we feel compelled to do more- more for the community, more for those who need us, and more for ourselves.
Someone, who I will keep anonymous, gave a compelling speech about their own story. A young man who grew up in the true definition of a 'working poor' family. For a lot of his life, he struggled with hunger, and through the kindness of neighbors, co-workers and endless hours clipping coupons, he and his mother provided what was necessary for his younger siblings- food. He worked tirelessly after school to provide additional income to help with the bills and rent, but it still wasn't enough to keep a hot meal on the table, let alone three. And when it came down to it, his younger siblings were priority over he and his mother so they would not realize that hunger. The community they lived in was riddled with violence and drugs and the possibility of something more seemed a faraway dream.
Today, he reflects on how they all made it out of there alive, and is thankful that they did, even though the same could not be said for others. Without the help of kind neighbors and, eventually, government assistance, the struggle to find food would have gotten down to scavenging or begging. Unfortunately, this man's story is typical of an overwhelming population, not only throughout the United States but specifically Alabama. Now, in the face of adversity, this man has a prominent position in a national company. He is able to provide more than enough for his family because of his challenges as a youth and dedicates his life to helping those that share his story.
For a food bank employee, board member or volunteer, this is the heart of our mission. This is why we get out of bed in the morning and this is why we dedicate our lives to helping others.
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