Up until 2014, Jose had what he called a “good life.” He had a house, a car, a motorcycle and a good job. Two jobs, in fact. He said that he always had everything that he ever wanted and needed.
But three years ago, all of that changed. His 34 year-old fight with diabetes cost Jose one of his feet. A heart attack left him with stents in his body and he also has to check his skyrocketing blood pressure every single day. Jose’s health concerns have resulted in his losing everything he said he’s worked hard for in his life. He’s had great difficulty gaining employment, has no savings left and has lost his home to foreclosure.
His unemployment isn’t for lack of skills or lack of trying—he’s been to bartending school, been a trainer for managers at Applebee’s restaurant, does graphic design and is bilingual. Because he doesn’t have any dependent children in the house, he was unable to receive any government assistance. He now lives with his adult son, but has very little money to buy much of anything and even necessities like groceries is a struggle.
Jose said that a lady at church told him about Neighborhood House and suggested he see if he could shop at the Food Market. Being in a food market was a new experience for Jose, he said. “In my heart and my head, I never thought I would be in this position in my life.”
When he entered the Food Market, Jose was greeted by a volunteer, who let him know how many items he was welcome to take from each shelf. As he reluctantly pushed his cart down the aisle, his countenance shifted from one of shame to one of gratitude. Jose carefully selected a range of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, breads and dairy products and was delighted to take home some treats for the family dog He became delighted, exclaiming, “I can have this, too? This is what my mother used to cook for us as a child!” And, “I can really have three of these, too?” He joked as he got to the section with the sweets and said, “Uh-oh! I guess I will only take a little bit of these!” He took his time and carefully chose his items, and was excited to even get to take home some treats for his dog.
Staff made sure he knew that he was welcome back and gave him information on dates and times that he could come again. He said that he was so thankful to have been able to come and that he felt good about being able to contribute to the household. This trip to the Food Market, he said proudly, was helping him to contribute to the household again.