I am a Navy veteran. I was honorably discharged after serving my country for four years on several detachments and deployments. I loved my time in the Navy. Sure, it was hard work but I got to see the world and I was always taken care of. It wasn’t until after I got out that my struggles really began.
I’m a single mom to two beautiful girls – Daeja is five and Divinity is six. My husband and I split up a few years ago and unfortunately I don’t receive any support. I want to work hard and earn a living, but right now my daughters’ school schedules don’t allow it. Daeja is too young to attend school all day, and I can’t afford the daycare I’d need to work full time. I do everything I can to make the most of the few hours she is in school – I clean homes, landscaped lawns; anything to make a little money to keep the shelves stocked. But as you can imagine, it’s not enough. There have been times when I didn’t eat so my daughters could.
As a veteran, it’s really tough to ask for help. The Navy taught me to be independent. I was ashamed to admit that I couldn’t make it on my own. My daughters were the only reason I ended up asking for assistance. Their needs motivated me to put my pride aside and visit the Veterans Nonprofit food pantry – served by El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank. By giving us food, the pantry restored a sense of normalcy to our lives and gave us the strength and inspiration we needed to keep reaching for a better day.
I now know that a better day will be here soon. In a few months, Daeja will be old enough to attend full-time kindergarten, which will allow me to work enough hours to make ends meet. I’m not sure I’d be as confident about the future without the food pantry’s support. To me, the people there are angels, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done.
*We are able to tell this story with our partner, C&S Wholesale Grocers, who helped with production costs.