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About This Blog:

 Food Dignity® Project Blog Contributor and Board Member of the Al Beech Food Pantry Nikki Nardell shares a story of hope in what seems to be a hopeless time.

About Nikki Nardell:

Nikki Nardell is a writer, volunteer, board member of the Al Beech Food Pantry and over-caffeinated mother of 4. She is also the founder of The Helper Project on Instagram.

Helpers Don’t Wear Capes. They Show Up.

At one of our final distribution days of the year – a solid 42 weeks into fighting this pandemic – a first time customer pulls up to our drive-thru entrance.

Her windows are rolled up. I can see multiple mask straps around the back of her ears and a heavy wool scarf wrapped around her face and neck. Her eyes were focused forward. She holds up a notebook piece of paper to her window with a message scribbled on it for me to read:

“I am COVID positive. I have 5 days left of quarantine. I’m the single mother of 3 small children. I am out of work and struggling. I have no one to come for me. Will you please give me food?”

I bite my lip and quickly think of the most appropriate way to respond.

In front of me sits a young woman directly battling 2 pandemics – one is COVID, the other is HUNGER.

I tap on her window so she would finally look at me. I made a heart sign with my hands and wrote, “Hang in there mama. We will take care of you!” on a post-it for her to read.
She nodded her head, and I was sure under all the coverings she was crying. I registered her and sent her forward in line.

My heart broke for this single mother at her breaking point. I had so many questions:

  • Why was she all alone?
  • When was the last time she was able to get to the grocery store?
  • How long has it been since she or her kids had a decent meal?
  • How awful must it be to fight COVID while still playing the never-ending role of Mommy?

My heart hurt, but my heart was angered. I was infuriated by the fact that we are 10 weeks shy of a year into this pandemic, and…

We are still struggling to help people meet their basic needs.
We are still struggling for solid plans of actions.
We are still letting so many people slip through the cracks of this national crisis.
We are still struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and children.

Rather than seek to unify and heal, our government continues to bicker and divide, which trickles down from political leaders, to our local neighborhoods, and through our social media feeds.

This woman, a single mom of three young children, has no support system.

COVID or not, people must eat.

This mother doesn’t have time for relief bills to be passed or stimulus checks to be sent or not sent. She, like many other people, needs food on her table TONIGHT.

And that is where our team steps in – and STEPS UP. We see the need and do what we can to fill it.

Our team of volunteers are The Helpers.
We may not wear capes.
We may not leap buildings in a single bound.

But we do make the choice to SHOW UP and SERVE. We show up in extreme heat, rain storms, and now freezing weather to help our most vulnerable population. Some of us show up because we know what it feels like to need a helping hand. Some of us show up because we are fortunate enough to never have known the feeling of doing without. Yet, we all show up to build our community up rather than be a part of its demise.

Our team is always looking for those ready to serve with us or learn how to serve in your own community. Click HERE to see how YOU can become a Helper today.

Click here to listen to the Food Dignity Podcast episode with viewpoint diversity expert and founder of Positive-Ed Consulting Erin McLaughlin as she discusses how we can work to reconnect with family and friends we lost during the polarization of political sides and differing values. Regardless of our views, if we all showed up together, think of all we could accomplish.

Learn More on the Food Dignity Podcast!

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