Despite his position as the director of his church’s outreach program, Barry knows firsthand what it means to rely on food assistance. The church’s food pantry is both his life’s work and his support system.
1. The Hunger Paradox
Barry: Living and surviving were two different things because I was also a counselor and coordinator for families that were struggling, but yet I was struggling as well. I started going to the food pantries. I was looking for personal assistance from my church at that time. They had an outreach pantry. I started volunteering. The volunteering piece spring-boarded into actually a job in which I became actually the director for their outreach program.
2. Not Alone
Barry: Mentally, it was a little rough because it was like, how did I end up here, when I have all of these skill sets from the military and dealing with social issues in the community. And hey—I’m a good guy! I shouldn’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck. But yet, it let me understand, I wasn’t at the head of the boat. I was in the boat. Because you’re now alone.
I would like to think that, from my experience, you find a lot of people that seem to believe that they are alone. They’re in the struggle by themselves, and they’re not. Both as a servant and recipient, it made me be able to have a much more compassionate heart because I knew that if the parents or the adults were struggling, then what about the children?
3. Sustainable Solutions
Barry: It’s a daily straggle, and the food bank has been there to help fill that gap. I know I’m going to misquote the description about teaching a man how to fish? You know, that’s one of the things I always liked about the food bank is that they can provide the resources on getting people to be fishermen instead of just standing on the bank waiting for the boat to come in. If you can teach somebody how to live healthy and to use their resources to the fullest of their capabilities, then you start addressing some of the other issues and problems that go on in society. You know, because when you’ve got a child that’s going to school that’s not paying attention in school, it may not be ADD. It may be that that particular child is just hungry.