How a Local Food Pantry Changed Martha’s Life

Photo by ccstbp
03.26.2012By

Photo by ccstbp

Martha Heassler has been married to same man for over 30 years. They have two daughters, they’re both professionals, but when the times got tough, that didn’t matter. They almost lost their home.

Martha’s husband didn’t have permanent work for nine years. He was doing agency work and collecting unemployment. Martha had different jobs as well, including some consulting work but that wasn’t enough to keep them afloat.

Looking for help, she found the Greater Boston Food Bank. Their local food pantry was able to give them the basic foods they needed every week, which helped bridge the gap when they didn’t have enough money to buy groceries.

“I’ve seen up close and personal how much that food makes a difference when your back is against the wall,” she says.

Living by the shore, the Food Bank was able to provide Martha’s family with fish, eggs, milk, basic canned goods, and frozen foods. She says these are things they can work with to make a meal, and with the little money they have, they can buy other items, like oil and margarine, to supplement.

“Sometimes people say, ‘How can you not be embarrassed in needing this resource?’” says Martha. “There are times in life when you need help—in times of grief, when you lost your job—and sometimes people are too proud to ask for help. There’s no shame to receive and benefit from this. When you don’t accept this help, that’s a shame.”

More Than Meals

Aside from providing her with the basics, the Greater Boston Food Bank staff treats her like a friend.

“When my daughter’s birthday was coming up, we didn’t have money for a cake,” she says. “So at the food pantry, they had a huge tub of orange sherbet which happened to be my daughter’s favorite.”

She’s been going to the food pantry for the past 5 years and absolutely loves the staff that works there.

“The Greater Boston Food Bank has amazing facility,” she says. “[They] can work with larger vendors in community, and mobilize huge amounts of resources that can be accessed by smaller food banks and pantries in Boston area.”

Now Martha’s family is able to make reduced payments on their home.

“We’re still using it, and are hugely grateful,” Martha says.

Giving Back

And because of her gratitude, Martha gives back to the organization that helps her. She uses her professional grant writing skills to get the word out about the Food Bank to the media, and she gives back to others in her community that may have different needs she can help with.

“We recently cleaned out the house in case we had to move,” she says. “So we donated things we didn’t need to a thrift store that helps the food pantry because we know it’ll help raise money.”

“We give whatever we can give, and part of being a human and person of faith, I can’t be cold and calculating about it,” Martha says. “We all have time when we need help. I don’t want people to be embarrassed and hoard when we can all be helping each other. We should never be embarrassed to be a part of that. It’s the circle of life. We all have things we can give, and help each other by giving.”

“We all have things we can share,” she says.