Two years ago this week, I hopped off an early flight to Little Rock. The hour-long drive that followed led me to a town called Searcy, offering plenty of greenery and Arkansas beauty along the way. It was a sunny day in Searcy, where I spent the morning interviewing residents at a local food pantry on behalf of the Arkansas Foodbank.
The pantry’s founder showed me around and introduced me to a variety of folks from volunteers, to senior citizens, to homeless individuals. But the most memorable person I met that day was a woman named Jennifer, a mother of three. On the surface, Jennifer wasn’t unlike hundreds of other parents we’ve met at food pantries over the years: hardworking, determined, and in need of a little help making ends meet. If you work for an organization providing social services, a story like Jennifer’s may already sound familiar…
Finances weren’t always so tight for Jennifer’s family. Just a few months before we met, she and her husband were both working full-time. But serious health issues forced Jennifer to take a leave of absence from her job. She expected it would be several more months before she could resume working, even part time. Suddenly, their family of five was reduced to getting by on just one income.
“Without my second income, things got a lot tighter. We sold a lot of things to pay our rent and utilities, but we still didn’t qualify for food stamps.”
This Mother’s Day, I find myself reflecting on the countless sacrifices moms make every day. We all want the best for our children and would do anything to ensure their futures are bright. It’s the common thread that unites us, regardless of our socioeconomic backgrounds.
Thanks to the good work of our wonderful clients, moms like Jennifer have places to turn in times of need.
I’m so grateful that Brad Cecil & Associates can support organizations that exist to improve the lives of parents, grandparents and caregivers like Jennifer.
As Jennifer shared her gratitude standing beside me in the pantry parking lot that day, she wiped away a few tears, remembering the sacrifices her own mother made. She pointed toward the road…
“When I was a kid, we lived in a hotel right there down the street. Sometimes, our family would go several days without food, and I’d hear my mother cry. There were no services like this back then. Coming here to get the things we need, and seeing food in my pantry at home is such a relief.”
That day, Jennifer took home more than just food. She was given hope. Because our clients exist, and because we live in a beautiful world full of generous donors who support them, Jennifer didn’t have to sacrifice her dignity or ability to put food on her family’s table.
As Brad Cecil always reminds us: “Our job is to inspire people to action” and that those actions will “change the world.” Being able to feed her family changed the world for Jennifer that day. I feel so privileged to be a part of such meaningful work this Mother’s Day.
- Illustration by Zach Shirley © Brad Cecil & Associates 2015.