He never planned it this way.
He’d served his country four years and three tours and expected a little more in return.
But it’s an early winter morning and if he is going to get anything remotely fresh today, he needs to get there early. Dozens like him will be traveling in cars but he lost his a couple winters ago to a payday loan company in exchange for a month of keeping his heat on. He laughs at the irony. He hasn’t had a payday in 20 years.
At 81 now, he moves more slowly. Partly due to the cold. Partly the wage of aging. Slipping on the tattered gloves and coat he’d received last year from the passing of a friend downstairs, he heads out the door into the biting wind for the long walk he makes twice weekly.
$20 in coupons to the farmer’s market from the charity down the street. It’s pretty much his only shot at a bag of fresh produce and fruit to complement the $16 in food stamps and cans of whatever the adjacent church food pantry has on the shelves that day. But he’s learned there’s a better than even chance for hamburger on Tuesdays.
When I first met John, I’d naively asked him if it was difficult getting old.
He said “No, it’s difficult being hungry.”
For an entire generation of people just like him who’d once dreamed of a retirement of travel or at the very least, a front porch, this is normal. This is how they wake up. This is what they take to bed at night. This is the entirety of their lonely day. But the fortunate ones, like John, can still smile through it all and remarkably reminisce about their blessed lives if you will give them an audience.
Mine is seeing this every day and doing what I can with limited resources to change it.
I work at HopeLink of Southern Nevada, a small family resource center with 11 other really smart co-workers bent on changing the normal of people like John.
Funding for non-profits has taken a big hit recently, making our efforts dependent on the generous giving of individuals like you who partner with us to change their normal.
About 90% of every dollar we receive goes directly to client services and assistance to help the John’s of our community and children and families who are desperately seeking a step up the ladder which will lead them out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.
This coming Thursday, March 10th, we have a chance to buy some ladders for these people. It’s the Nevada Big Give, an online global day of giving. John and thousands more we serve each year are counting on it to make a difference for their lives.
Me and John thank you in advance.
Help HopeLink change their normal.