Chris and his wife spent the past 25 years in Kansas. He worked in manufacturing, welding agricultural equipment. He also volunteered with his local VFW for many years, serving his country by serving retired veterans in his area. As he gets older and manufacturing jobs become more difficult to find, he decided to move back to Ohio to live closer to family.
Chris moved to Malvern last year when the weather was warm; he and his wife lived in a tent for a few months when they first arrived. As winter began to loom over them, he was able to earn enough money to secure an apartment, and his landlord has since been lenient with late payments. Not being able to afford internet or a phone made finding and applying for a job difficult.
Chris was attending services at Minerva United Methodist Church when he learned of its emergency food pantry program and its Direct Distribution program, hunger-relief programs of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Receiving assistance from these two programs has helped him and his wife make healthier food choices.
“When we first got here, we didn’t have a choice; we had to eat a lot of fast food,” he said. “We feel a lot better when we’re eating healthy. Nothing beats a good salad.”
At first, it was difficult for Chris to accept help from the church. He didn’t want people to look down upon him and judge him for not being able to take care of himself and his wife. So, to feel worthy of the assistance, Chris volunteers with the Direct Distribution program, arriving hours before the distribution begins to help sort food items.
“They fed me and my wife last month and now it’s my turn to help out,” he explained. “I feel like I belong here with these people, my fellow worshippers; we all volunteer together.”
Chris worked diligently to look for and secure a job. Though it will take some time to build up his safety net and get ahead on some bills, he’s well on his way to building a better life for himself and his wife. And if he needs to rely on Minerva UMC along the way, it will continue to be there for him.