My husband and I had good careers. I worked for the State of Mississippi for 31 years. My husband served in the military and after that worked for a local university. We raised two children and had a fine life. We both liked our careers but were more than happy to retire after we paid our dues — we looked forward to the life of leisure that came with our golden years.
Our life of leisure didn't last long. Two years later, our three granddaughters came to live with us. They were very young — two, six and eight years old. My husband and I were getting by just fine on our retirement income, but suddenly, with three extra mouths to feed, our pensions didn't go as far as they used to.
I was ashamed to ask for help at first — I mean, we raised our grown children on our own. Thankfully I never had to actually ask. There's a food pantry at our church, and the woman who runs it said, "Roberta, you need to sign up. Charity begins at home." So we signed up, and it helped me feed my family.
We've come a long way since we first started using the pantry. I'm grateful and thankful for what it provided in our time of need. Now I'm in school to get a degree in medical coding and billing, and I'm finding myself in a position to give back. I make sure to volunteer at the food pantry every month with my grandkids — I want to instill in them the value of helping people in need.
I graduate next May, and I'm looking forward to the future. With my new career, I'll be able to provide a better life for my family. We'll have the freedom to do fun, family things, but most importantly, I'll be able to help my grandchildren get an education of their own. I want them to grow up to be self-sufficient. They are smart — I know they'll be okay. They've been through some rough times, but from here on out their lives will only get better.