Each struggle matters: clients and community share feedback | ShareNet

Even social services work can become routine on some days.

We see a lot of people in our community struggling, so perhaps it’s natural that sometimes that fact wouldn’t seem exceptional. Our society has come to think of hungry and homeless people as just part of the fabric. We’ve devised ways to address the problems, food banks being one of them; and in a way, we don’t see these folks as exceptional cases anymore.

But each struggle is exceptional, and each struggle matters. Even we don’t always think of ShareNet services as life-and-death critical, but then something happens which transcends the routine: someone who’s just been released from the hospital still visibly ill and homeless … or a single mom with three small kids about to be evicted.

We don’t always have the solution to such big problems, but we always have food, information, other resources to assist and a friendly ear.

If we’re ever in doubt about how critical our services are, even in an improved economy, feedback tells us otherwise. Recently, some clients and community partners shared why ShareNet is important to them.

Patrick Thompson wrote, “If ever a food bank has been a friend, this place has surpassed all of my needs … the nicest people helping out this community. Thank you for keeping me alive.”

A client who wished to remain anonymous wrote, “I am on a fixed income trying to make it, and now my grandson age 8 is with me … You help us make it, even kids’ shoes. Thank you,”

Larry West wrote, “Supporting [a family] on disability is a challenge at best. ShareNet not only supplies us with food but other items needed in the household [like hygiene products].”

Jonelle Grady said, “We receive SNAP benefits but they don’t seem to stretch to the end of the month. We truly could not survive each month without this place.”

Sanna Salo, behavior and academic intervention coach at Wolfle Elementary, said, “We are so grateful for the support ShareNet provided in sponsoring the Love and Logic Parenting Workshop at Wolfle Elementary. The class helped parents learn a balanced approach to parenting. The class was a success with childcare, dinner and instruction provided by ShareNet.”

Stephanie Pugh, learning specialist at Wolfle Elementary, said, “ShareNet is a great resource for financial and community support with our Wolfle community. In addition to providing food packs for students in need, they also provide free books for kids. The packs are filled with nutritious food items that kids will actually eat and can most usually prepare for themselves. ShareNet was also a sponsor for our Smarter Balance Assessment snacks. It is so very important for the third- through fifth-graders taking state-mandated tests to have snacks.

“In addition, ShareNet sponsored two of our family engagement nights, a family math night and a family reading night,” Pugh said. “They’ve provided the funds to feed all the participants as well as purchase books so that each family went home with a book. ShareNet is a great community partner. They help give us support and help us focus on the whole child.”

Mary Lou Luddington wrote, “Just one incident wouldn’t tell the whole story of how ShareNet and all the wonderful volunteers have made my life better. As a senior, I’ve found [what I can afford to buy] in stores won’t see me through the month. ShareNet keeps me healthy. I love all the friendly volunteers. Thank all of you who work at and donate to ShareNet. They seem like family.”

She’s right to think of thanking the volunteers and the donors, because we are only able to offer the spectrum of ShareNet support through the community support we receive. Support of registered food banks across the region, including ShareNet, is down because perceived need is down, yet our service numbers haven’t dipped. When either financial or volunteer support flags, it threatens what we’re able to offer to the kids, elderly and disabled struggling in our community.

Sometimes, ShareNet’s food bank lobby looks like an emergency room and in a way that’s exactly what it is, with our volunteer greeter as triage nurse; there are that many folks struggling with poverty, medical issues or disabilities. Yet, ShareNet is a happy place too. because it’s a place where people listen, care and help.

Each struggle matters. Each donation matters in helping us build this spectrum of support.

— Contact Mark Ince at director@sharenetfood bank.org.