Becky works at East Wellington Community Services Link opens a new window, and was a former client of a food bank. Here is her story:
I had a great childhood. My dad worked, my mom stayed home and did day care. My brother and I participated in pizza days at school, dance class, swimming, karate lessons. We were ‘normal’ – the average family.
When I turned 10, my parents separated. My dad moved out, and struggled with addictions. My childhood home was sold. My mom, brother and I moved to a new community and into an apartment. My mom started working, and my brother and I started at new schools. It was hard! A completely new life – my world turned upside down. My brother and I were concerned about the small things that seemed like the end of the world at the time.
Now, as a wife and mother, I can look back and see that what was a hard change for me was insurmountable for my mom. A single parent, working a full-time job and trying her best to provide the same opportunities to her children who didn’t fully understand why the change happened and that money doesn’t grow on trees.
When I look back, I can’t help but think how differently things might have gone if caring people hadn’t existed in the communities that we landed. My life experiences definitely shaped the person I am today and steered me into my profession. Through my work, I can now appreciate that it took special people, organizations, communities, as well as an extraordinarily courageous mom to shape the person I am today.
I can recall phone calls to distress lines in the middle of the night when all of the “what if’s” float through your head and the night can feel so lonely and isolating. I remember going to food banks in Brampton, Georgetown, Erin and Owen Sound.
I fondly remember being so excited when staff at the food bank told me to go ahead and pick out mittens and scarves from the basket. I now understand that they were lovingly knit by groups of senior ladies with names like the “Knotty Knitters and In Stitches.” I remember wondering how my mom found the money for backpacks filled with everything to be successful at the start of each school year.
I remember completing a ‘wish list’ with my mom one year – not understanding that the wish list would be submitted to a local organization’s Christmas Gift Hamper Program. I remember waking up Christmas morning to find everything that I had asked for lovingly wrapped and under our tree, despite my mom telling me through tears that Christmas would be small that year and to not get my hopes up.
Most importantly, I remember coming to the realization that if so many people in my community and in my life thought I was worth all the effort, extra kindness and special gifts – then I was and that I would not let them down.
I have spent my adult life paying it forward and trying to create the same hope and assurance in others that they are also worth the second thought, extra effort and the extra jar of peanut butter at the grocery store.
I have been successful because communities that care continue to exist, continue to give and continue speak up on behalf of those who are struggling to find work, housing, childcare and a reason to not give up hope.