Freestore Foodbank Blog

Mediaon December 28th, 2010Comments Off on Freestore Foodbank Blog
Bernice Cooper
Vice President of Client Services
Customer Connections

In my position, I don’t typically work one-on-one with Freestore Foodbank customers. However, one of my managers was out sick last week and other staff members already had appointments scheduled, so I was more than happy to sit down with a homeless woman to get a better idea of her situation and how we could help her. Out of respect for our customers, I have chosen not to use her real name. So instead, we’ll call her Eileen. I opened the interview by asking Eileen the routine questions about how she became homeless and ended up living at the Drop Inn Center. Little did I know where those questions would lead me…

Eileen came to Cincinnati from out-of-town less than two weeks ago. As I continued to ask her questions about her work history, Eileen explained how her husband, acting out of jealousy, got her fired from two previous places of employment. Eileen assured me she didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol, but mentioned she recently spent more than a week in the hospital. At first, she was hesitant to explain why. She began to cry and pull back. I gave her a few minutes. Then Eileen opened up…

You see, when Eileen came to Cincinnati, she was running to save her life. It was her husband who put her in the hospital. He had beaten her so badly, Eileen needed medical attention. She had spent more than 10 years in that abusive marriage. And it was her son who gave her the prompting to take control, telling her, “mom you have to leave that man and I will help you.” And he did just that…

Eileen’s son bought her the bus ticket to come to Cincinnati. Eileen says it was difficult to leave everything and everybody she knew to come here and start a new life. So challenging, she almost turned right back around and returned to her husband. She was afraid of being alone.

Fortunately, the woman sitting next to her on the bus convinced Eileen that she deserved a better life and that this was her opportunity.

Eileen seized the chance for a fresh start. She went to the Drop Inn Center for help, and from there was directed to us at the Freestore Foodbank. We have a program that helps people who have recently become homeless, and I was the lucky one who got to meet Eileen and hear her story. I was able to refer Eileen to the YWCA, where she applied and was accepted into their program that provides a safe haven for domestic violence victims.

When I last saw Eileen she was on her way: she was getting a new apartment, a case manager and a new lease on life. She was smiling…