Thank you to guest blogger Rhonda Richmond, EdD who shared her story about growing up in poverty. We were moved by what she shared and hope you will be too.
My grandmother raised me in Denver, CO. She was a maid; a foster mother and she raised most of my siblings and cousins. It was not uncommon for there to be anywhere from 13 to 18 people (mostly children) in our home at one time. We often received food baskets, used Commodities and got food from the food bank. I cannot express to you how thankful I am that groups like you are around to fill the gap.
I also get defensive about the need for people to have food. I remember one year, I was in college and a gentleman began telling the class how hunger in America was a choice. He said that people, who are poor, choose to be poor and for that reason, we should stop giving them stuff to make them want a hand out. I remember how bitter those statements made me on the inside. Then I realized that he had never experienced poverty or hunger in his entire life. He never knew what it means not to have the basic things one needs to survive from day to day. Of course he could call it a choice, he had never felt the whip of the violence that poverty is.
My grandmother (single with only a 4th grade education – a former cotton picker) had known poverty her entire life. She raised us not to think of the things we needed to survive as a handout and she told us not to be too proud to ask for help.
By contributing to FBR, people are saving lives.
Rhonda Richmond, EdD
Education: Teaching and Learning
Higher and Postsecondary Education
We agree with Dr, Richmond. Food is a basic need. No one should go hungry. Thank you for reading our blog, advocating for the hungry and for helping us feed hope!
Rachel watches her two granddaughters while her daughter works the night shift at a nearby hospital. Her partner works for $9 an hour and she receives $150 every two weeks while she looks for part-time work. Rent is high and Rachel and her partner struggle to pay the bills. The help she receives from Project Access Resource Centers, a member agency of Food Bank of the Rockies, allows her to provide healthy food for her granddaughters when they come home from school. This food has been a big help for Rachel and her family.
Mark volunteers at FBR’s Denver warehouse. He shared with us that just last winter, his family needed food assistance. His story is a great example of why our staff comes to work every day and how contributions to FBR truly change lives.
After a serious car accident, Mark found himself unable to work. His family couldn't make ends meet on his wife’s nursing salary alone. With mounting health bills, hungry children to feed and winter’s utility bills filling the mailbox, they knew they needed to find help. And help came in the form of food from Food Bank of the Rockies. That nourishment provided not only peace of mind, but also a chance for the family to get back on their feet without going hungry.
Mark believes people should give back to each other and that’s why he’s sharing his time volunteering in our warehouse. We’re glad Mark’s story has a happy ending and grateful to all who help us by giving time, food and funds. 1 in 7 Coloradans are going through struggles similar to Mark’s and worry where they’ll find their next meal. Your gifts make more of a difference than you could imagine to hungry men, women and children in our community.
Thank you for your support! Together we can solve hunger.
On a windy, sunny October afternoon, we met Colin and his daughter while they were picking up food at Chapel Hill Church, a member agency food pantry who relies on Food Bank of the Rockies for much of their food. His daughter reads quietly in a comfy chair while Colin, a soft-spoken, hard-working family man, agrees to share his story with us. He and his wife have three young children. He works very hard at what he describes as a “hands-on” job, 60+ hours a week, yet doesn’t make enough to always make ends meet. They struggle to pay the bills. Colin tells us daycare is almost as much as rent. “It’s expensive, like renting a second apartment just for the kids,” he says. His wife stays home with the kids because daycare would actually cost them her entire paycheck plus part of his.
“With the increase in food costs, we’re having trouble getting by right now. The food program has been a huge help. We can keep the food on the table and keep the lights on for the kids.” His family returns items they can’t use and donates the kids’ clothes after they outgrow them because he says, “Someone out there is always going to be hungry. Someone out there always needs a little helping hand.” Even while needing help themselves, Colin and his family continue to think about giving back to others and returning the favors that have been given to them.
Watch his interview:
We met Beverly at the Salvation Army in Grand Junction where she was picking up food distributed through TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program), a program of the USDA. Beverly told us she’s in remission from a rare form of cancer. After intensive chemo treatments, her bones and blood are compromised and now, after a lifetime of helping others, she is unable to work.
She also deals with an ostomy and getting the right combination of foods to prevent issues means her diet is limited. “It’s easier to tell you what I can safely eat,” she tells us. “No canned or fresh fruits or vegetables, very limited grains, mostly just potatoes and chicken.”
Beverly lives in a housing complex for elderly and disabled. She only qualifies for $50 of SNAP benefits each month, so she depends on help from the Salvation Army and Food Bank of the Rockies. “We need to take care of our disabled and less fortunate. Because of my health, I have to depend on the charity of others. If people don’t help, then people like me are going to be out of luck.” Beverly is appreciative of the help she receives and we thank her for sharing her story with us.
When you think of heroes, you might visualize someone in uniform, maybe even someone wearing a cape and tights, but when the team at Food Bank of the Rockies thinks about a hero, we think about Ron Torpy, our long-time volunteers and truly a hero to the hungry in our community.
Come visit our reclamation area Monday - Wednesday, and even a few Saturdays, and you're likely to find Ron there, sorting food, lifting boxes and helping the other volunteers with questions. Ron, a retired letter carrier, will tell you he enjoys the physical activity and keeping in shape. And we're sure glad he does. Since 2003, Ron has contributed more than 13,400 hours - the equivalent of 6 1/2 years of full time work!
We were so excited when 7 News' Mitch Jelniker surprised Ron with a visit to the food bank during one of his volunteer shifts to present him with a 7 Everyday Hero award.
Thank you Ron for all you do to help us fight hunger. You are truly deserving of this honor and we're so grateful to have you as a volunteer!
Watch Ron's story on Channel 7's webpage.
Colorado weather is full of surprises. Spring break in Colorado could mean fun in the sun or playing in the snow. It could also mean hunger. Imagine not having the energy to run and play because you didn’t have any food to eat today. Sadly, there are children right here in our community who don’t have to imagine. School breaks and weekends should be a time for kids to make happy childhood memories, but for 1 in 4 Colorado kids, it’s a time to worry when and where they’ll find their next meal.
Dawn volunteered with us along with her work group from Sage Hospitality. She shared her powerful story about growing up in a struggling family where she often received food from shelters and through the generosity of programs like Totes of Hope™ and our partner agencies. She was excited to be able to give back and wanted people to know their gifts really do matter. “As a kid, you do remember the kindness and you do remember having something to eat.”
Listen to her story and make a contribution if you can.
Success stories like Dawn’s are only made possible through the kindness of our community. Thank you!
The clock springs forward and the days get longer. Green shoots pop up in the flower beds and the birds chirp a little louder, signaling a change in season. Today is the first day of spring and for most of us, it’s a happy shift to warmer weather. For many kids, it means a week off from school and a vacation from studies.
But for 1 in 4 Colorado kids, it can also mean a vacation from school meals and after school feeding programs, which is no vacation at all. Having nourishment is critical for developing and growing kids. A child going hungry in this land of plenty is simply unacceptable, yet every day, there are too many children who don’t have enough food, especially during the breaks from school.
One of our volunteers recently shared her story with us. She said her parent made “bad choices” when she was a child, forcing her and her siblings to live in shelters and always wonder if they’d have a meal. She remembers dreading school breaks because that could mean going hungry. She also remembers getting food through programs like Totes of Hope™ - Children, After School Snacks and Kids Cafe. “I was too little to really know where the food came from but I was always so happy to be able to eat a good meal or bring something home to share with my family. Now I know it come from places like Food Bank of the Rockies and I want to give back because I know how important those programs were to helping me succeed in life.”
You can help make sure Colorado kids have enough to eat this spring break and all year long by making a gift to our children’s programs and Fighting Hunger Feeding Hope. Thank you for caring about our hungry kids and their families. Hunger knows no season. We appreciate your support!
We recently met a real life ray of sunshine. Her name is Paula and she has a contagious happiness and glow about her. Traits so many people crave. For Paula, warmth and hope are second nature. She generously offered to share her story with us. Her real story. No fudging or sugar coating. Life and choices bring about hardship and she didn't dodge any of that.
Paula worked as a flight attendant and Realtor for years. Life was smooth sailing. Drugs entered the scene and threw a major wrench in Paula's life plans. She lost everything and spent years struggling to keep a safe roof over her head. She relied on food banks and often found herself with a box of oatmeal to her name. Life wasn't so smooth sailing. This is where so many people would shake their heads and judge Paula and others who have made choices similar to hers. Just wait. The story doesn't end there.
After three years in an intensive rehabilitation program, Paula crawled out of the trenches and found that positive life rhythm she was desperately searching for. She found a good place. After surviving a life threatening car accident, she went through physical therapy and started writing and expressing her faith through shockingly beautiful poetry. She self-published her books, documenting the story of her life. After years of relying on food pantries, Paula started showing up at a FBR agency partner to help. To give back. Volunteering brings her additional joy and makes her grateful for everything she has. Paula uses her struggles and her accomplishments to add hope to the lives of those around her.
Our darkest moments tend to bring about the sunshine that Paula carries with her. We're grateful that FBR was able to catch a glimpse and play a role in carrying Paula through her journey.
You can check out Paula's website for more of her story and poetry.
Picture this... you walk out of a routine doctor appointment with an unexpected diagnosis of prostate cancer. Shortly after undergoing treatment for the cancer your kidneys start shutting down and you're immediately put on dialysis three times per week. You're far too weak to work, let alone walk to the mailbox or drive. In the midst of all of these new found health problems, your food stamp allotment is cut 75%. Bills are still coming in, health care costs are mounting and rent is still due.
This short synopsis is the journey that Hillery has been navigating this past year. We met this remarkable man at one of our agency partner locations last week and were in awe of his positive spirit. He spoke with eloquence about his appreciation for food assistance and how blessed he is to live close enough to walk to retrieve food when he's able. Hillery's story is all too common for so many of our clients. The ups and downs of life bring about situations where a helping hand goes an incredibly long way. Hillery made it clear that without food assistance, he wouldn't be able to make it right now.
Every dollar donated to FBR provides four meals for our neighbors. Thank you for providing hope for Hillery and so many others walking a similar path.