Sharie is a client of the Brockville Food Bank. Her story originally appeared in the 2019 Hunger Report.

My name is Sharon (Sharie) Mallette. I would like to take a moment and thank all involved with keeping the food bank running and all the help my husband and I received at the Brockville Food Bank.

My story starts with Percy and I working our whole lives. I worked 30 years at the same company before going on Disability. Percy worked 25 years before the plant closed down. Then he drove transport until he was unable to continue, needing a knee replacement surgery in February 2013. Four weeks later in March, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and given emergency surgery. The surgery didn’t go well, and he was left with nerve damage in his arms and hands. Our lives were devastated. We lost everything – our home, vehicles, and our dignity – while waiting for CPP for my husband, which took over 2 years to get.

This is when we found out about the food bank. When we went to register, I cried through the whole process. The intake person was very understanding and not judgmental. When we got to the counter to collect our food, the server that was helping us was very kind and helpful. She tried to make our experience a little easier for us.

When our lives started to calm down and the chemo trips to Kingston were over, we got settled into an apartment. My husband was making some progress with his arms and hand and he could now write his name, but constant pain is permanent and most of his fine motor skills were gone.

It was around this time my doctor said I needed to do something to look after myself to spend time out of our home: join a group or a hobby, something where I could interact with other people. This is when I turned to the food bank again, this time to volunteer. They helped me as much as I am helping them. I think my experience as a client helps me interact with the client coming into the food bank for the first time or on a regular basis.