Imagine growing up in Austin Texas on a large ranch with a private plane. Your family is in the tamale business and your father has made a small fortune on his trade. You are very blessed and have never known hunger.
One day you come home from school and find that your father has lost everything. Your family struggles to survive, and through the hardship, your father abandons you, your mother and siblings. Through the pain, your mother begins to drink and cannot raise you and your siblings.
With seven younger brothers and sisters, you take on the role as caregiver. Homeless, you find an abandoned house to stay in so that you are not taken from each other and put into foster care. You are fed through a local St. Vincent de Paul food pantry; picking up the food in a 3-wheel wagon. You struggle to survive.
Imagine the strength and courage it takes for a young fourteen year old girl to make it through this devastating journey.
Now imagine this young fourteen year old growing up, receiving a college degree and becoming a Vincentian herself, so that she could one day run a food pantry. This remarkable woman is Liz, and for the last 24 years, she has been working on the front lines of poverty. Most recently she has been at the St. Gall Food Pantry on the South Side of Chicago.
The St. Gall Food Pantry serves over 300 people a week. The volunteers and staff open the doors every Wednesday with lines wrapping around the building. Families and individuals receive premade sandwiches and hot coffee upon arrival and take bags of food with them for their homes.
Liz sits down with an older client in the back. He suffers from severe arthritis and essential tremors. This prevents him from being able to care for himself. He has been lining up at the St. Gall Food Pantry for over a year; waiting in line sometimes for hours. He has difficulty walking and supports himself with a cane. Liz has observed this over the months and sits with him, offering hot eggs and bacon and a moment to rest. Although she does not drive due to an injury, she offers to bring him food during the winter months because she is fearful that he will fall and injure himself while walking through the snow and ice. He has not been willing to accept help in the past, but has learned to trust Liz over time and agrees to her home visits.
At St. Vincent de Paul Chicago, we are inspired by the work of our fellow Vincentians and know that our investment in the people we serve brings hope and healing to those in our communities.
Liz tells us: “Love is contagious, but love isn’t perfect. You must have hope.”
There is no denying the suffering caused by poverty, but we must not lose sight of the goodness around us. We must be inspired by the good works done by good people.
Let Liz’s story inspire you. You might not know your neighbor’s journey, but with hope and compassion, you can make a difference.
Last year, you helped us feed over 622,200 clients. Your generous donation will help us feed even more families as we head into the holiday season and the long winter months.
HELP US HELP OTHERS. Thank you for your generous support!