For years, Kathy has volunteered at the community centre near her house, which offers a food pantry for those in need. She is passionate about connecting people with nourishing food because she knows what it’s like to go hungry. Kathy has accessed the pantry to support herself and her family, and is glad it exists to ease the strain of finding food. The centre is supported by United Way, and Kathy says she can’t imagine where her community would be without it. She shares her story below.
There is nowhere else I would rather be. I have found a second home.
“I am known around the community centre as ‘grandma.’ Everyone calls me that, even other seniors, and I love it. It started with my grandkids calling me grandma and then a little boy asked me, ‘Why did your mom name you grandma?’
I moved to this neighbourhood in 1986. I didn’t know about the centre when it opened because I mostly stuck to myself. But four of my nine grandkids started to come here years ago and I would come pick them up because my daughter was at work. Then I started to volunteer here.
I help out with the breakfast program and the after-school program, but the food pantry is my biggest thing. I love it there. We help everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live.
Food, in general–you need it for mental stability and sometimes if you don’t have access to food, you can just go mentally in a downward spiral. If it weren’t for the food pantry, some days I would probably not be eating at all.
I live paycheque to paycheque. When you can get food here, you can use that money to pay other bills.
Yesterday, a homeless man came in. He didn’t have socks. But I was able to find him a couple of pairs in the clothing pantry and gave him some food, too. That man left happy. There have been days when I’ve been hungry and cold, so I understand. For a lot of people, pride gets in the way and they can’t ask for help. But the centre is there for anyone.
My grandkids have come for breakfast and the food pantry has helped us when we’ve needed it. This place is a comfort when you are struggling. I really wish the centre had been around when I was raising my three children.
I have mental illness issues. I try to make myself get up every day to try to keep my mental health on track. I now work part-time at the centre doing cleaning. There is nowhere else I would rather be. I have found a second home.
I try to donate to United Way myself. I can’t do large sums of money, but I do what I can. When I can’t donate, I ask others. It helps in so many ways. I can’t imagine where the community would be without it.”
*Photo has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.