Tanya’s Story

Tanya has been a client of the food bank for over 10 years as she struggled on her own to raise her two special needs children. Money has always been tight while being on government assistance and receiving patchy and insufficient support from the children’s father.

She would come in on a regular basis to receive emergency orders of food. Our food orders would generally last about three weeks and was a real boost to her monthly budget. She would bring her documents including her income and expenses. During an intake process she would often talk about life situations, family relations and parenting to one of our interviewers. She became quite close to one of our staff, Michelle, a Christian Minister who would encourage, advise and generally support her living her life.

On two occasions she was part of our Christmas adoption program and was generously sponsored with Christmas presents and a large Christmas order of food. This wonderful blessing had a huge effect on her family as they received the love and care that the presents and food represents. It took all of the worry away and provided the children with new clothing and age-appropriate toys to challenge them.

“We are happy to see Tanya and her children happy and supported and to have been the anchor and support they needed through the storms of their lives.”

Over the years Tanya met a lovely gentleman who became a father figure to her two children. The whole family remained very fragile as Brian struggled with his health. We helped Brian with some necessary medications from our own discretionary funds. In 2013, Brian passed away suddenly. Michelle officiated at his funeral. It was special for them to have someone who knew him and the family personally, and was also a financial savings for them.

Our intake process includes reviewing I.D. for every member of the family as well as address, income and expenses. Because of this we have been able to confirm custody through documents, friendly conversations about family life and even visiting with the kids when they come to the food bank and even on occasion being in the home.

Michelle has written a number of letters confirming custody for court and child tax purposes. In Tanya’s case she received thousands of dollars in back pay of child tax. This was understandably a huge deal for the family as bills were paid and she bought an economical car to replace the very unsafe one that she brought the children to their appointments in.

Tanya’s relationship with her landlord deteriorated and her housing became insecure as she moved unsuccessfully into further bad situations. She partnered with an agency to secure a wonderful home. When she needed to find an additional $1500 for her first and last month’s rent, we partnered with a church that has a large discretionary compassion fund and was willing to help because of our ongoing relationship with Tanya.

Presently, Tanya and her teenage children are living in a lovely stable home. For the most part, they have found financial security. We still see them from time to time as they may need a bit of help. But for the most part are far more stable than they ever were. We are happy to see Tanya and her children happy and supported and to have been the anchor and support they needed through the storms of their lives.

Submitted by the Barrie Food Bank as a part of the 25 Years of Changing Lives Gallery.

Thank you to Hunger Action Month sponsor, Cargill Canada!