As a single, working mother of children ages two to 18, Sandra is no stranger to hard work. But like many families across Northern Illinois, she found herself in unexpected and uncharted territory when she began experiencing serious medical issues.
With years of work experience, both in construction and in a hospital as a certified nursing assistant, Sandra had successfully purchased her own home and own vehicles, and was able to provide for her family. Just over a year ago however, all of that changed.
During one of her usual 12-hour shifts at work, Sandra noticed she was having difficulty seeing her computer screen. She went to the eye doctor, but when nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary, she returned to work. It wasn’t until later when she suffered a seizure at the dinner table that she found herself in the hospital undergoing numerous tests—tests which revealed she was suffering from aneurysms and tumors in her brain.
While she underwent a grueling surgery to remove the tumors, she now suffers from side effects including chronic memory loss, vertigo and sciatica, all of which make keeping up with her children and housework difficult. A severe migraine had landed her in the hospital just the night before she visited the local pantry where we met her, Avon Community Food Pantry in Round Lake Park.
Although she receives a small amount of SNAP benefits, Sandra says she is still struggling to make ends meet. She shares that her oldest son, who is 18, just started working and has been helping pay the bills, including their mortgage. She hopes that her recent social security benefits application will come through before she loses her home.
“He’s stepped up so much,” she says. “I just hope I don’t have to lose my home because I worked so hard to buy it.”
Sandra is thankful for the help she receives at Avon Community Food Pantry, which she visits once per month.
“Without this place, I could only afford beans and rice,” she says.
She shares that although she knows how to cook quite a few meals only using staples like rice, beans, tomatoes and onions due to her Mexican heritage, she always looks forward to the variety of food offered at the pantry.
“I always ask if they have venison meat,” she says excitedly. “We got some of it here once, and the kids really loved it. So now I make a bunch with it whenever they have it—burgers, tacos, everything!”
Sandra gets teary-eyed thinking about everything she and her family have overcome in the last year, but is hopeful for the future, and is thankful for the support she receives at the pantry.
“I appreciate all your help, and I hope God blesses the Food Bank with a lot more.”
Families like Sandra’s need your help. She continues to work hard to provide for her family. Learn how you can help Sandra and other neighbors like her so they don’t have to choose between paying their mortgage and providing nutritious food for their families below.