Heidi started visiting the food pantry about 20 years ago when she was a single parent taking care of her daughter and a son who was recovering from a horrible boating accident. A friend, who happened to be a police officer, suggested she visit the food pantry for help. She hesitated because she feared she would be judged. She worried what the volunteers may think of her and if they would wonder why she didn’t try to earn money so she didn’t need to visit the pantry.
Heidi cut corners to save money any way she could, and actually went three days without electricity. She had been working three jobs but with her injured son, she was not able to keep that schedule. She worked in whatever capacity she could and even cleaned her neighbor’s gutters to try to make ends meet. She was a strong, independent, prideful person who thought she could figure everything out on her own. The situation continued to become more and more difficult and she had to admit to herself that she needed help.
From her first visit to the Community Caring Center she was never judged or made to feel guilty. She was never made to feel “less than” or that she was getting a “hand out”. Not only did she receive food assistance, but also information to help with utilities. She no longer had to choose between putting food on the table or her kids going on a field trip, or having clothes for school. After visiting CCC, she learned that it is a place of knowledge and the staff recognizes when someone needs help.
Heidi was able to move beyond the difficult times and no longer needs food assistance. She was willing to share her story because she wants CCC clients to understand that just because you need help now, it is not over, you are not stuck, and you can do this!
Heidi recently hosted a holiday party where the guests were asked to bring a donation for the Community Caring Center. Food, clothing, household goods, hygiene products, and all sorts of items were donated. This was one way that Heidi was able to pay it forward. By hosting her event and sharing her story with her friends, she was also able to change the perception they had of food pantries and the people that need assistance. Her party guests were able to relate to her and trust in her message that things won’t always go your way. She experienced the struggles life can bring and witnessed the struggles of others with her own eyes.
Heidi continues to be a strong and independent person but with a special place in her heart for people in need. She lives by two things: The Golden Rule and “This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it”. Twenty years ago Heidi was fortunate to have CCC, now, CCC is fortunate to have Heidi.