Real Stories of Hunger

Your Story: Cynthia and Stephen

When we first moved to Wilmington from Chicago all we had was a place to live. I had no job and our car was on its last leg. My husband, Stephen, had recently been diagnosed with kidney disease and to this day is living without kidneys. He receives regular dialysis to survive which prevents him from being able to work.

We moved to Wilmington because I spent my youth here. When Stephen got sick we needed to be in a community full of people we knew cared; and that is exactly what we found. Through connections I was quickly able to find a position as a personal care assistant to a man living with disabilities. I work full time but even still, I don’t make enough to provide for our family of five. We have three young children – Stephen Jr. who is eight, Amber who is seven and our baby Ashley who is five – and it’s a constant struggle to make sure we are meeting all their needs.

There have been many times I’ve wondered how I would feed my children. When I placed them in school however, someone told me about the BackPack program – sponsored by the Northern Illinois Food Bank – that sends my children home with backpacks full of nutritious food every Friday. Each weekend, they are excited to get home and see what is in their backpacks and I am relieved knowing our entire family will get enough to eat.

I know that soon things will get better for us. We recently received amazing news – they have found a kidney donor for my husband. This next year he is scheduled to receive a transplant and soon after that he’ll hopefully be able to work again. Until then I am so thankful for this community and the BackPack program here. It is helping us get through a tough time and reach a brighter future.

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