My friend Pete was suffering with congestive heart failure.
He was told he had, at best, five years to live. He decided at that point to move to Florida to live out his remaining years in the sunshine state. The old saying, “People go to Florida to die,” rang true for Pete.
He lived for four of those five years on a houseboat facing the glorious view of the Banana River, where he watched the sunset every night on the roof of the boat house. But he grew unable to afford the house boat and the maintenance that it required, (even though he was a carpenter at heart and could fix and improve anything, make things better than when he found them). He grew too weak to maintain the boat and the cost it took to live there.
He moved a few miles away into a trailer park community. His trailer was butted up to a pond and he enjoyed watching the ducks and dreaming of taking the trailer on the road one day.
But those were only “pipe,” dreams because he couldn’t afford the gas it would take to move the trailer. He also grew too weak to do much of anything. His life’s activities grew to consist of doctor visits and grocery store shopping for cheap food on sale.
Pete had one day been a wealthy man, a business owner, but like many, he lost his wealth to business and he was simply too proud to ask for government assistance, for food stamps.
He also grew unable to afford the medicine he needed to help keep the fluid from collecting around his ankles, the pills that help remove the retaining fluid when his heart grew too weak to pump properly.
His money went towards food instead of medicine and considering his lack of funds, the quality of food he bought was loaded in salt, fat and cholesterol—that which was exactly what he shouldn’t have eaten, but which was on sale and was all he could afford.
Even though Pete was too proud to collect food stamps, which inevitably could have improved the quality of this life those last few years, food stamps help increase the quality of lives. My family has lived on food stamps and without that assistance I can’t imagine how much harder those times would’ve been for us.
Consider this post a call for us to remember our local food banks, to support and bring food donations to our local banks to help end and help prevent hunger in our own communities. With a cut in the food stamps, there will be more reliance upon these food banks.
People naturally want to help—we feel good about ourselves when we help others, but often we don’t know how, or we seem too busy to make the effort, even though we might have the best of intentions at heart.
Here’s how we can make it easier.
1. Contact your local food bank and let them know you want to help.
2. Organize a drop off place for your friends, family and community.
3. When that pile of donations rises, take it to the food bank, or if you’re unable, notify them and they’ll be happy to come retrieve your collections.
If you own your own business, make this part of your mission. It will seep into the consciousness of your community that your business helps to feed the local hungry.
I ask, in honor of my late friend, Pete, and for pete’s sake, let’s help feed our local hungry because one never knows when one day, it could be us.
Pete was once a millionaire. He never thought he’d be choosing between buying food or having medicine, or that he’d end up having such a hard time putting food on his table.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman