Last Thanksgiving, Crystal figured out how to cook turkey in a crockpot. The 300 square feet of their motel room was filled with the familiar smells of the holidays and for a moment felt like a home. She and her husband, Tom, enjoyed the meal on the bed, while their baby toddled around the room pushing a wagon of blocks.
This was their second month in the motel. After losing an apartment where they lived with another couple, they moved into this motel near downtown Greensboro. Tom worked odd jobs, frequently for the motel, but everyday was “chasing $46 dollars.” $46 dollars is the amount it costs per night to get a room here; $52 if you want a refrigerator. They could not rationalized the expense of the refrigerator.
“It is a lot cheaper to rent the room by the week,” Tom said, “but we can never save up the money if we have to keep paying every night.”
“Being poor is expensive,” said Crystal explaining how, without a refrigerator, they had to buy the more expensive single serving yogurts cups, milks and juices for the growing baby so that the food wouldn’t go bad.
Volunteers at a local food pantry began to set aside healthy food that would work for the family’s limited cooking facilities: dried beans for the crockpot, microwaveable soups, pre-cut fresh vegetables that didn’t require counter space to prepare.
“It’s all about making do. You have to stay creative; you can’t let it get you down.”
Second Harvest supplies food, programmatic support and advocacy to over 470 on-the-ground partner programs such as the pantry that has helped Crystal and Tom “make do.” The food and support sent by Second Harvest across Northwest North Carolina touches 300,000 lives a year… 100,000 of whom are children.
The Second Harvest network is committed to putting food on the tables of struggling families like Crystal and Tom’s while they do the hard work of navigating a difficult economy. At the same time, we are further committed to making impactful change so that in the future these families do not have to make such difficult choices between basic needs, such as housing and food.
The path out of the motel was not easy. Once the weather warmed up, Crystal and the baby went to stay in a women’s shelter, while Tom slept in a tent near the highway– his military service had prepared him well for this, but it was still a difficult time being away from his family. After two months of this arrangement, they saved up enough money for a deposit for their own one bedroom apartment.
Regular work and family supporting wages are still hard to come by for this family. Crystal and Tom live paycheck to paycheck and still go to the food pantry to supplement what they can afford in the grocery store. “Any little bit of help like that helps us move our money to something else we need, to some other bill,” said Crystal.
But this holiday, Crystal will be cooking a turkey in a proper stove in their own apartment. They are making progress. For this they are grateful.
For this we are #thankFULL.
*While this is a real story and interview, the names have been changed for privacy.