Giving and Receiving
Life can change in the blink of an eye. Andrew Wood knows that all too well. The 45-year-old husband and father of three’s job as a local professor took a turn in the Fall of 2012.
“I loved working as a professor,” Andrew said. “I always got positive performance reviews and expected to work at the same institution until I retired. My wife and I were working several jobs to get out of debt and were just a few months away from that goal when the college restructured and downsized my job. Of course this also meant losing my health insurance and the future free college tuition benefit for my children.”
With two daughters, ages eight and 11, and a 10-year-old son, Andrew and his wife now found themselves facing the unknown.
“I knew in theory that it could happen to anyone, but didn’t realistically expect it for myself. My initial feelings at losing my job were shock, embarrassment, anger, fear. We had already struggled to make ends meet on my full-time teaching salary. I worried that I would have to start over at an entry level in a new career path; that years of education and work were wasted. Was there something I could have done differently to prevent this? Should I have foreseen it was coming and spent more time preparing for an alternative career?”
Making Ends Meet
Andrew and his family did their best to budget the money they had. They cut unnecessary expenses. Andrew took a night-shift job. Friends and family stepped in to help out financially and helped the family renovate their home to put on the market.
“We reflected about how hard it must be for people who might not have that level of support – such as the elderly or people who have newly moved to the area.”
Hunger Knows No Zip Code
Andrew was also introduced to another means of help during an online search – the Corpus Christi Food Pantry, a Freestore Foodbank community partner located in the suburbs of Hamilton County.
“Andrew stood out to us from day one,” said Diane Arnold, Coordinator of the Corpus Christi Food Pantry. “He recognized right away that this was going to help him. His family was first and foremost in his mind. ”
“Although their signs say they can only provide enough food for a couple of days – in fact they gave us so much we could stretch it for most of the month,” Andrew said. “We were able to put away an additional several hundred dollars. This was especially helpful as I lost my insurance when I lost my job and had to begin paying out of pocket for my prescriptions.”
Andrew ended up finding so much more at the Corpus Christi Food Pantry.
“Besides the financial support, I just found it encouraging to regularly connect with the volunteers. They were kind and encouraging. They recognized me and greeted me by name, treated me like a valued ‘customer.’ This was helpful in rebuilding my sense of confidence and self-esteem.”
“Every month, he would come in,” said Diane. “And I would ask, “Andrew have you found anything? I knew he was looking for a job. He was so kind to everyone. Everybody was willing to help him. He’s just one of those nice people.”
Months passed and the pieces of the puzzle started fitting into place. Andrew accepted a new teaching position in Omaha, NE. He was able to find a buyer for their home in Cincinnati in just five days.
“We were elated when he got a job,” said Diane. “It was a big celebration. We were just so happy for him because he deserves it!”
And then, one spring day, a letter from Andrew arrived at Corpus Christi.
“Before we leave I just wanted to say a most sincere, ‘thank you’ to the Corpus Christi community and your gracious volunteers at the food pantry,” Andrew wrote. “I appreciated how I was not questioned about my religious beliefs or recruited for the church, but simply offered assistance with no strings attached. This experience has taught me a lot about how even ‘able bodied’ people need temporary assistance as they get on their feet, and how important it is to treat people with honor and dignity at these times.”
Enclosed in the letter was a check for one hundred dollars.
“I almost cried,” said Diane. “This is a man that has been stretched significantly over the last few months and here he is giving us money.”
“I received so much assistance that making a financial donation does not even seem like a donation, but sharing a small part of the financial savings we had from our grocery budget,” said Andrew. “ We wanted to give something back to say thank you to God, to Corpus Christi and the Freestore Foodbank, to encourage the volunteers, and to make sure resources are available for other people in need.”
“The letter itself was invaluable,” said Diane. “You couldn’t put a price on it. He doesn’t’ know the impact he had on us, just because of his kindness. I know he is very thankful for us, but we are very thankful for him.”
Give the gift of hope and impact a life like Andrew’s this holiday season.