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Figuring Out the Best Way to Live on Hope

COVID-19 was becoming a factor in our pantry service when I volunteered at one of our pantries several weeks ago.  For the safety of clients and volunteers, we had just suspended Client Choice, where clients are able to shop for their groceries.  We were wearing gloves as we were packing bags for clients after making notes of their preferences. The pantry was very busy, and at times clients had to wait 15 to 20 minutes.  Everyone was grateful that we were open, and no one complained.

A tall gentleman sat quietly in a chair and seemed happy just to be there.  I asked if he had visited one of our pantries before.  “No,” he said, “My wife has, but she had chemo yesterday and didn’t feel like making the trip.  I’m on my own today!” I asked about any food preferences, and he answered,  “Well, I have A-fib and a touch of high blood pressure, so we watch our salt.”  We chatted about college basketball and speculated about whether the NCAA would cancel the tournament because of the Corona Virus.  He said he would understand why if the tournament was cancelled, but college sports were about the only programs he liked to watch on TV.

After a few minutes, his cart came out.  I walked down the hall with him to the door.  He paused and said, “Thank you for your kindness.  This is a fine thing you are doing here.   My wife and I appreciate getting all this food. Right now, we are just living on hope, and that’s what this food means to us.”

“Right now, we are just living on hope, and that’s what this food means to us.”

In that moment, I felt like Superman.  Hope, according to Dictionary, is the expectation that things will work out for the best.  The gentleman’s gentle positive words to me gave me hope.  I figured out that the best way to live on hope is to give hope.  Giving hope is a powerful thing, and it can be very simple. Kind words, a smile, holding open a door, rolling in a neighbor’s garbage can. I am going to practice every chance I get until I get it right.

-Shay Merritt

Shay Merritt, Loaves & Fishes Advocacy Coordinator