Judging by her smile, you wouldn’t know Brandy was going through one of the toughest times in her life.
Brandy waited with her mother-in-law Pam inside the American Legion in Rockford for the Mobile Pantry to start. The large meeting room was filled with the sounds of several dozen fifth- and sixth-grade students from Rockford Christian School who were busy bagging apples and onions for the clients. Outside, the snow was coming down.
Brandy had just come off an all-night shift as a home healthcare worker. Her kids are five, seven and nine (“the fun ages”), and right now she’s the sole income earner. Her husband wrenched his back helping a patient at the nursing home where he works, and his insurance doesn’t cover the treatments.
“People look at me like I’m crazy. You’re in the medical field. You work,” Brandy said. “Even with working overtime — with one person working — it’s not enough.”
“You’ve got to put food on the table.”
The Mobile Pantry from Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank will enable her to do that. As they went through the line, Brandy and Pam were able to collect a few days’ worth of groceries — frozen ham and turkey breast, apples, onions, potatoes and PopTarts — hopefully enough to get them to the next paycheck.
But this isn’t the end of Brandy’s story. She’s not content to collect food at Mobile Pantries forever. In fact, she’s just a few weeks away from completing her bachelor’s degree in healthcare management.
“I’ve got my paper written,” she said, though she conceded with a laugh, “I’ve got to catch up on my math.”
“She’s a hard worker,” Pam attested.
Brandy hopes that her degree will allow her to gain a higher-paying job, one that will fully provide for her family’s needs.
In all, more than 100 other households received food at the American Legion, which has been serving its community for five years. In that time, the Legion has helped nearly 3,000 neighbors like Brandy and Pam make it through difficult times and into a future that, with perseverance and an unbroken spirit, will be much brighter than the present.