Tina works as a volunteer at her local food pantry, helping new people fill out their applications and stocking the shelves. Sometimes her grandson comes in to help with the work. Tina makes sure that folks get the support they need, whether it’s food, clothing, or human contact and interaction. She knows what it’s like to be in need, and her heart has room enough for everyone.
She’ll be 61 this year.
“I'm on a fixed income and I do get food stamps but they don't go that far.”
Tina is raising her grandson, Ronnie, by herself. He’s lived with her since he was born – Tina brought him home from the hospital. She says that there are a lot of grandparents raising their grandchildren right now. It’s more common than people think.
Tina’s seen her share of tragedy. She lost her husband to cancer when he was 38, and her youngest son struggled with his own cancer at 14 months. Her other children are grown and gone. Tina herself had open heart surgery three years ago. These days, raising Ronnie is her purpose in life. “It means a lot to me. I want what’s best for him. I want him to grow up and have a good life, do education, go to college, so maybe when he grows up he won’t have to struggle.”
Tina does her best to balance everything: meals, household needs, and expenses. But her income doesn’t go very far. She’s negotiated with the electric company before, to work out a payment schedule when they were behind on the bills. Sometimes they’ve had to choose between having running water in the house and having food on the table. But somehow, Tina always makes sure that everything comes together.
When Tina and Ronnie have extra food, she puts together boxes for people who need it. Their community is full of older people with slender resources. Tina says that when someone opens their door and she’s there with a box of food, it lights up their entire day. Everyone needs help sometimes.
“I’m getting old and I have health problems, but I can still help out.”