“I’m Learning to Live Smarter, Not Harder”
Cynthia Johnson was leading a very productive life. At the tender age of 16 when most teenagers are deciding important things like what to wear and what movie they want to see, she was training to become a CNA and received her certification that same year. She worked in hospitals and with HOSPICE from that point on. Like many working mothers, she juggled family and career very successfully. Her two oldest children attended college and she was able to give them some assistance, even though she still had twins at home and a 15-year-old daughter who one night made a decision that would change her mother’s life forever. Nine months later when the baby was born, Cynthia’s daughter decided she didn’t want anything to do with the baby and chose to live on the streets, so Cynthia found herself in the role of mother once again. If Cynthia had not become disabled due to nerve damage from an old injury, life might have taken her down a gentler path, but it was not to be. She was struggling financially due to loss of income, her savings were gone, she lost her car and storms destroyed her house. The Pantry helped her apply for and obtain Food Stamps and provides her with a monthly food box. “I’m now learning to live smarter not harder” thanks to The Pantry!”
“From Grandmother to Mother in an Instant”
Life for Arlene Carpenter was always a challenge. At the age of five, she was diagnosed with polio and fitted with a large leg brace. By the time she was nine, she was picking cotton in the fields. She managed to stay in school until the 9th grade, but then had to work full-time to help support her family. As an adult, she had a hard time finding work because no one thought she could work with her disability. She proved them wrong and became a cabinet maker. Years later, her good hip had deteriorated so badly from all the years of doing double duty that surgery was required. She no longer could do manual labor and turned to foster parenting, taking in three siblings and adopting them when the state wanted to split them up. They have since grown up and have gone on to live good lives. Arlene’s daughter moved back home with her three children to help take care of her mom. Then, one fateful morning, Arlene walked into her living room and found her daughter dead in a chair — the result of a severe heart condition. She left Arlene with three grandchildren and made her an instant mother yet again. The food box Arlene receives each month goes a long way in providing food for her and her grandchildren.
“I Needed Affordable Housing”
Ray Williamson is a prime example of our elderly clients. A hard-working Kentucky farmer who cared for his arthritic mother after his father’s death, Ray eventually developed rheumatoid arthritis himself and moved to Florida where the weather was much kinder to his condition. He used the skills that he had learned in carpentry to buy, remodel and resell homes, which went very well for him until the bottom fell out of real estate market. By the time Ray reached out to The Pantry of Broward, he had reached the end of his rope. His home was in foreclosure and he needed assistance locating affordable senior housing. Our Director of Client Services worked with him to find lodging he could afford and helped to get him comfortably settled in.
“I Found Myself Hungry and in Need of Help”
Mayfort Cooper is a Vietnam veteran who looks like he could still jump into his uniform and be ready to go where needed at a moment’s notice. Born in South Carolina, he experienced varied and interesting careers in the clothing industry and retail sales. Then Vietnam called and Mayfort learned about communications, drove 5-ton convoys to move equipment to new locations and ultimately became a Platoon Sergeant. After successfully completing his tour, he eventually ended up in Florida where he continued to find ways to educate and improve himself. He became a caretaker in a nursing home and went to school to learn floral arranging. As life has a way of doing, he was thrown a curve ball, contracting cancer of the throat and requiring an artificial larynx. He persevered and his floral arrangement business grew and supported him nicely until the economy declined, as did his business. He found himself hungry and in need of help. The Pantry provides him with a box of nutritional food each month.
“I Just Want to Live a Dignified Life”
Maxine Davis raised three children by herself using the skills of knitting and designing clothes to put food on the table. Eventually she became a recreation aide for a blind and disabled school in New York. While at work one day riding in an ambulance with one of her charges, a truck careened into them and Maxine sustained severe back injuries. Back pain and crippling arthritis aggravated by the extreme cold – compounded by the death of her daughter – brought her to Florida where she still had her knitting but no longer wanted to leave her house. A slip and fall resulting in a broken wrist finally brought her to The Pantry of Broward for help. By that time she was hungry, had no medical insurance and had gone for years without much-needed medication. The Pantry went to work, providing her with a food box, registering her for food stamps and medical coverage, securing her medication, and paying her lapsed electric bill.
“When Lack of Food Is a Symptom”
It would have been easy to simply have given a box of food to 73 year-old James when he came to The Pantry of Broward seeking help. But our experience has shown us time and time again that the need for food is symptomatic of other pressing needs affecting the seniors we serve. For this reason, each new client is invited to a one-on-one counseling session with our professional case worker. After such a session with James, we discovered that he had opened a bank account so his Social Security payment could be directly deposited and had been given a debit card but had no understanding how it worked. James had inadvertently given “a friend” his PIN and that friend had been draining his account. We were able to recover more than $2,500 for him, help him obtain a new account and PIN, have his overdraft fees waived and arrange for direct payment of his rent and utilities from his bank account each month.
“I Wanted Independence and Privacy”
After retiring to Florida and living with one of her sons, Adeline asked for The Pantry’s help in obtaining affordable housing of her own. She had worked hard all of her life, paid her taxes, raised a family and simply wants to live her golden years in independence and with pride. The Pantry of Broward ‘s case worker guided Adeline through the paperwork and application process required to obtain an apartment in a senior housing development located in Pembroke Pines called Douglas Gardens. The Pantry makes monthly food box deliveries to Adeline and all of its clients residing in Douglas Gardens as well as two other senior housing developments, negating the need for those seniors to travel to The Pantry to obtain their food each month.