I went to college in Memphis, TN, but I came back to Arkansas to earn my master's in marketing and haven't left since. For more than a decade I worked in marketing and communications at a local college. I was good at my job – in the years I worked for them, I helped double their enrollment. But times got tough a couple years ago, and they laid me off.
Ever since then it's been a struggle. I'm educated, I'm experienced, but yet, I can't find a job. I apply and apply, but hardly ever hear back. My wife is a substitute teacher, but lately even substitute jobs are in short supply.
It's been rough for us. Keeping the electricity on is our biggest challenge. We heard about the food pantry – supported by Feeding America member Arkansas Food Bank – from my mother-in-law. It was humbling to go, but there's no shame in asking for help when you need it. Now, we go each week and volunteer as well. Without the food pantry, we would probably have to choose between paying the bills and eating. That's not a choice I want to submit my wife and daughter to.
The food pantry provides us with food – but it also provides me with a sense of purpose during this difficult period of unemployment. I know that on Tuesdays, I am going to volunteer at the food pantry, and I'm going to help some people. That makes me feel good. The food pantry has made a difference in our lives, and that is something my family will never forget.