Watching the procession of men and women, many with their children, lining up to come through AFAC, always makes me wonder what their stories might be. Occasionally I give them a hug as I help them decide what veggies and fruits to take home. I hope a bit of conversation, laughing and looking them in the eye gives them hope that I and others truly care about them as individuals. This interaction is always one of my joys at AFAC! Recently I was pleased to have the opportunity to spend some time with a client, Leslie (not her real name).
Leslie comes in weekly and is escorted through the back of the warehouse by a staff member or volunteer, unlike the other clients who come through the front door. I always wondered what her story might be. She is a very sweet woman in her early 60s who shared matter-of-factly that she has lived with mental illness since college and has been retired from government for 23 years.
She told me being around crowds in public places causes so much anxiety that she would not be able to come if not for the individual attention she receives to help her maneuver the lines to pick up her food. She said she lives on a mere $850 per month, and put her fingers up in the air to indicate the long list of medications she is taking.
I asked her how she got to AFAC each week, which is an amazing part of her story. For the past eight years, Leslie’s friend since their computer lab days in college, has picked her up every week and brought her to AFAC. For eight years!
As we finished our visit, she stood up and took the initiative to shake my hand and asked my name again. She shared that she was unable to lean over to pick up her two large bags of food due to a pinched nerve in her back. As we walked to the car, she introduced me to her good friend. We exchanged smiles, and I told her I looked forward to seeing her again next week.
(Written by AFAC Volunteer Ronda Adgate; Spring 2010)