Penny Church is a regular food bank user.
“It’s always helpful. There are times when it’s critical,” she said.
The 62-year-old Brentwood Bay woman isn’t what some might picture as the person who needs help filling the cupboards. She’s regular volunteer at Beacon Community Services thrift store in her community, where they’re able to work around her special circumstances.
As a parent, Church worked herself tired, taking on as many jobs as necessary to make sure her three children and one foster daughter were well cared for. A single parent, she worked in tourism, restaurants and management.
“I stretched a dime into a dollar many times,” she said. “I didn’t think about me until it was too late.”
As children left the nest and Church anticipated taking her skills and travelling for work, she was struck down. An inflammation disorder took more than her mobility – it damaged her pride.
“It was hard,” she said of that first visit to the food bank years ago. “You’ve always been independent and survived single-parenthood and all of a sudden you’re basically crippled.”
She’s among the 400 or so people who get a little extra at Christmas through the Sidney Lions Hamper Program. The Sidney Lions Club manages the program and the food bank to feed those in need across the Peninsula.
“The little piece of cheese we get every month is such a treat and it’s nice to get the dozen eggs, because those are two expensive things that you might not buy,” she says.
But Church is always looking forward. Three years ago she got what was to be the solution to her disability: knee replacement. Though it’s not “mind-numbing pain” there is still pain. With the high cost of living here, she sees a move to Nova Scotia as her solution.
“It seems the most achievable.”
You can help
• Donate to the Sidney Lions Food Bank at the Christmas Hamper Depot, 2388 Beacon Ave.
• The Peninsula News Review is also accepting non-perishable food donations at 9843 Second St.