Meet some of Shepherd’s Pantry’s clients. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Amber's husband Barry had a job learning to be a sheet metal fabricator. He had a medical emergency that required multiple surgeries and time out of work. He eventually lost his job because of further medical complications and then they lost their house. Amber had been working part time but she lost her job as the family of five moved into a temporary homeless shelter for veterans. The goal of this shelter was to help the veterans get back working and move to more permanent housing.
Barry got a job driving a truck and was required to go to Florida for a training session that would take a week. The trucking company paid for his transportation to Florida. When he got to Florida he found out that the session was five weeks rather than one. This put the family in jeopardy at the temporary shelter. Their temporary housing was for three weeks at a time and, as the veteran, Barry was required to be there in person to renew the temporary housing. They received notice of eviction from the temporary shelter. Barry had to find his way back from Florida as the trucking company would not pay to send him back before completing the course.
Barry made his way back to his family in the shelter and convinced the shelter manager not to put his family on the street. And of course after this mishap, the driving job fell through.
Once again Barry had the bad luck to require yet another hospitalization and doctors found a complication from the previous surgery. Currently this family is still in a shelter but it is not a transitional shelter. It is a difficult life. Their son is only eight years old and Amber says that he sees and hears way too much; more than any eight year old should. During all this time the family has been helped by the Shepherd’s Pantry and Amber says that she thanks God for this Pantry, and wonders what they would have done without this help.
Daphne has just recently lost her job again and her landlord has raised her rent by $250.00. All her life she has worked. She is 63 years old and so afraid that she is going to become homeless; additionally she is scared that she may have a nervous breakdown from her worries. Her daughter lives with her and is only able to work 32 hours every week. Daphne wishes that her daughter could get more work hours. She says "Please keep me in your prayers, sometimes you have to just let it all out to someone."
Chloe has recently been very concerned with finding some shorts on our "client clothes swap table" for her son who is five years old. He is big for his age and as the weather turns warm he gets easily overheated and is asking her for shorts. She cannot afford to buy him shorts. Chloe is now a single Mom because she says her son's father chose heroin over him. It brings her to tears to explain her story, the boy's father was her best friend.
When Pamela first came to Shepherd's Pantry she had been in a car accident and was unable to work and it was impossible for her to keep up with the bills. Eventually she was able to go back to work but was still struggling financially and continued to need our assistance with supplemental groceries. Shepherd's Pantry provided her with food and she found the courage to keep an optimistic attitude and this gave her a bridge to her future stability.
It was so uplifting to hear from Pamela that we had provided even greater help to her family without realizing it. One day with a glorious smile on her face she explained that it was probably her last visit at Shepherd’s Pantry because things have improved for her and for her son. It was very important for her that she say thank you to us for all of our help over the past year. Not only was the food helpful but also the positive outlook that she says we convey to our families. Pamela explained that because of our encouragement she was then able to encourage her son every time he needed it, and now her son had just been awarded a complete college scholarship for four years. Her plan is now to relocate to Maine so as to be near him as he attends college and she is planning to get a job there. This move should also be a financial help as the cost of an apartment rental in Maine will be approximately one third of the rent in this area of New Hampshire.
Arnold is a client who is homeless and lives in the local woods. His mode of transportation is his bicycle so when he does receive bags of food from Shepherd's Pantry, he has to balance this food on the bike to get it to his camp. He made a point of coming to thank our director before this past Christmas for the food he receives. Arnold said, "When I am back at my camp and I am heating up the food I have received from you I am so grateful. You know many things have happened to me like all of the problems with my teeth, but the help I get from here is wonderful." He is someone who lives exposed to severe weather yet there was great warmth behind his smile as he said this.
Our client Marie is a widow who found out about the Shepherd’s Pantry by reading a story in the Windham Independent, our local weekly newspaper. She now relies on the food assistance she gets from the Pantry, but due to high real estate taxes in Windham, she thinks she will have to move out of her home. Her expenses exceed her fixed income. She has been trying to find a different place to move into but is not finding anything she can afford. Marie is also coping with a broken clothes washing machine. She says that they wanted more to repair the machine than she originally paid for it. The back seat of her car is often loaded with laundry baskets because she does her washing at the local laundromat.
Christy is a young single mother with two school age children to support. She makes use of the Pantry when she has an additional expense like her car registration. If she pays for her car registration she does not have enough money for food. So she makes use of local food pantries for food and then the money usually spent on groceries pays for those additional expenses. Because of this available help, this family does not go without basic necessities.
We had a young family of five as clients who had relocated here from Texas. Lisa the mother was very grateful for the help because she finds it too expensive to live here. "My husband works and I work at Walmart and we cannot make enough to afford the cost of living in this part of the country. When we lived in Texas only my husband worked and I stayed home to take care of the children, and we had enough money to support the family". She explained that it was a huge difference to the children (emotionally, physically and mentally) to have their mother staying at home instead of working. The family is planning to move back to Texas.
On a Monday prior to Thanksgiving we got a call from a client who had not been to the pantry in four or five years. Carly explained that she was desperately in need of food and asked if she would be able to come again for help. She was told to come right away as we were distributing food that morning. After receiving her regular food order, she was asked if she needed help with special food for a Thanksgiving meal. She said "Yes". Carly was then led to the area where the special Thanksgiving food was being distributed. As the Shepherd’s Pantry volunteers began to add to her cart all of the Thanksgiving extra food items, Carly began to cry. The volunteers then became concerned that they had done something wrong because she was crying. Carly couldn’t even talk all she could do was cry because she was feeling so overwhelmed by the generosity.
Debbie is a grandmother who is out of work and receiving Worker's Compensation. She just cannot cover her expenses with the money she receives. Debbie's daughter, who is also unemployed, and four school-age grandchildren have been living with Debbie since her daughter was abandoned by her husband.
Just the other week Jane, who uses a walker, took the time to thank us. Our announcements were being made before the food distribution was to begin, and she spontaneously began thanking all the volunteers who are there week after week doing this work for the families of Shepherd's Pantry. She ended in tears.
Let us tell you about Susan, a long-time client of Shepherd's Pantry. She was in good health when she first began coming to the Pantry. Her husband was stricken with cancer and was no longer able to work. Their medical expenses were escalating. Susan continued to work but her income was not enough to cover the bills. Her husband's health continued to deteriorate and she spent much of her time taking care of him. Eventually she was fired from her job due to the conflict between caring for her husband and work. They had no income. Her husband passed away, and then Susan's health rapidly declined. As her health deteriorated, some of her children moved back into her home along with their children due to their own financial difficulties. Her health continued to worsen and now she walks with crutches. The Shepherd's Pantry has helped Susan provide for her family as they struggled through difficult times.
One of our clients, Paulette, has been coming to the Pantry for a very long time. She only comes when she needs the help and we may only see her twice a year. One of her children is a special needs student. She comes to the pantry when she is financially strained and needs extra help with things like laundry detergent & toiletries.
A veteran named Tom is one of our clients. He is waiting for a knee replacement operation from the VA hospital. His daughter lives with them now while she is going to school. He wants her to get her education so she will get a better job when she graduates. They are currently looking for a different place to live because it is not good where they are. The people that live above them are alcoholics who stay up all night and make lots of noise all night long. Tom has given the pantry $20.00 donations more than once. He says: "It is not easy to be receiving food from Shepherd's Pantry; I need to give back."
Ruth and Paul, an elderly couple, are Pantry clients. Paul comes to the Pantry for help with food because they face high medical expenses for Ruth. He is her primary care giver 24 hours a day. She needs help with basic daily movements. He helps her to get from her bed to her wheelchair, getting dressed, and bathing. He also prepares her meals and administers her medications. Paul has no time to earn other income so the help they receive from Shepherd's Pantry makes a big difference to them.
One Monday, Karen came and found our Pantry coordinator before she left the Pantry with her order of food. She gave the coordinator $40.00, hugged her and cried, saying that she had gotten a job and would no longer be coming to the Pantry for help. She wanted her money to help someone else. Karen thanked the coordinator repeatedly and said, "You will never know how much this help from the Pantry has meant to me and my family." Surely that $40.00 was money that she still could have used for her family. It was a very generous act.
Tracy and John are sister and brother who are intellectually impaired adults. They live in a home with their sibling who does the very best to provide them with shelter and necessities. Coming to Shepherd's Pantry to get groceries helps to cover their food expenses so that they can use what income they have to pay for heating oil and other utilities.
Years ago there was a client named Joseph. He would pull up to Shepherd's Pantry driving his pickup truck with Tommy, his little son, strapped into a car seat. Joseph's wife had walked out on both of them and he was in financial hardship. He came to Shepherd's Pantry for help with food. It was difficult for him ask for help, but he needed to come regularly. After a time he stopped coming and we wondered where he was and how he was doing. It was always his promise that when things turned around financially for him he would not forget us. One day he pulled up and gave us an envelope with his donation for the Pantry and said he had found steady work and no longer needed the Pantry's help. This brought many smiles to the faces of our volunteers.