Sherri’s story was featured in the 2016 Hunger Report in our feature on how energy poverty was affecting food bank clients across the province. Here is an excerpt from her story:

My name is Sherri. I’m a strong, passionate and very patient single mother of two boys trying to make it in this crazy awesome world.

I enrolled myself in Medix College and graduated with honours (I had never graduated anything before)! It took longer than I would
have liked to find an internship, but I finally found a great fit at House of Blessing – a food bank in Stratford, Ontario.

I was excited and happy to go there every day. I got to help people with things they couldn’t manage for themselves, and I recognized their struggle because I was currently walking in their shoes.

Money had run out for me and I was piling up credit card debt to make ends meet. I worked in a place where I was serving clients in a food bank – but at the same time could barely feed my own family. I was humbled and grateful the day someone noticed that struggle in me. As much as I was trying to keep it a secret, she offered me help.

I haven’t had many people take chances on me in my life without wanting something in return, so it was difficult for me to accept. But, for once, someone had seen the goodness and potential in me and wanted to help.

“I haven’t had many people take chances on me in my life without wanting something in return, so it was difficult for me to accept.”

I am forever grateful for the relationships I made while I was able at the House of Blessing. They help so many and now I am one of them. Even after I was no longer interning with them, they continued to help me.

Radiation and chemotherapy had left my teeth loose and needing to be removed, but with no prospects of work or health benefits, I
had been trying hard to save them for as long as I could. I did not want to face the new future I had been building with no self-confidence or teeth. House of Blessing helped me restore my smile and financially made it possible for me to get the partial dentures I needed.

I don’t know who the donors were but they have changed the way I look at people and restored the faith I’m not sure I ever really had. I can never pay it forward enough and will forever carry love in my heart for everyone who was able to help me move forward with a new disposition.

I am trying to be positive and know that things will get better, but sometimes stress is hard and trying to maintain with a single family income can be challenging and devastating. Breaking into my new life as a community service worker and not being able to find work is disheartening, but before I get bitter and slide into more emotional trouble, I will find a job, wait tables, or pump gas – if that means I can feed my boys and keep a roof over our heads.

Like I mentioned, difficulties and hard times are always getting thrown my way. But it’s not about how I got there – it’s about my decisions and skills to show how well I can get up and take on every day with strength and optimism, knowing sometimes that even I may need help and shouldn’t feel afraid to ask.

The kids are watching, and for the times in their lives when things seem dark or cloudy, I don’t want them to be too afraid or prideful to see that they can always reach out, and that there are people willing to selflessly make themselves available in times of need.

Submitted by the Stratford House of Blessing Link opens a new window as a part of the 25 Years of Changing Lives Gallery.