Leah was filled with fear as she walked out the door of her home seven years ago. After years of mental and emotional abuse she couldn’t take it any longer. Advocates at Family Services of the Piedmont had assured Leah that she would have a place to stay. Leah summoned the courage and, with her small backpack on her shoulder and $35 to her name, she left.
As Leah tells it, the five months she spent living at the Clara House, a shelter for domestic violence survivors, was a journey back to understanding who she is and restored self-worth and self-esteem.
"It made me who I am today, a strong woman with a voice, to be heard and advocate for others. I never thought at 55 years old I would have nothing. No Job. No money,” Leah explains. “I applied for Food Stamps and that program made such difference. It allowed me to eat and cook more meals. You don’t want to ask, but you’re so grateful for the help you receive.”
It took a court appointed attorney and a full year, but things did get better for Leah. Flash forward, and today she is happily married, doing work she loves, and volunteering to helping others who are struggling.
“When I lost everything, I learned that things are not what is important. So much was given to me in my journey to where I am now. If I can help just one person to make their life easier – whether it’s a smile, a kind word, resources, food, encouragement – these are the things I hope I am giving to every person and family coming to One Step Further for food assistance, yet in need of more."
In these challenging times for so many families, Leah wants to encourage others to share their care, and compassion to support neighbors and build community.
You can learn more about learn more about volunteer opportunities with Second Harvest Food Bank here.