Clients / Volunteers

At The Market

At The Market
by Debra Hall

Like a lot of Coastsiders my grocery marketing choices are a bit limited. I like to spend money locally, and well, food is something my family just refuses to go without! Needless to say Safeway and New Leaf, here I come at least twice a week.

There are inherent problems for me to living in a small town with the biggest problem being my appearance when shopping for the family. Never one to be accused of being a “diva”, I do try to look at least halfway decent when going out to shop. For me that means no painting clothes, no shorts and I do my hair, or at least hide it under the ubiquitous ballcap. After all as my Mother always said, “You never know when you’ll have an accident!” My Mother was a bit of a pessimist.

Last week on one of my various shopping trips about town I was in veggie heaven when I heard a tiny voice, “ excuse me, excuse me….” “I’m sorry, did you need to get by?”(carts tend to block up isles quickly) Shoving my cart as close to the onions as possible without causing an avalanche. “Excuse me, my Mama says she knows you, she says to tell you hello.”

Smiling I did my best to conceal that I had no idea who these folks were. It took a couple of looks to determine that I did know, or sort of know her Mom. To say that my mouth dropped open is an understatement. This was Marie* a client from Coastside Hope. I volunteer at Coastside Hope and have for about five years or so now. I am the smiling people greeter, or reception person, one day a week. That means I see everyone who comes and goes on my designated day.

I had seen Marie* at her absolute worst. Many of our clients come to us as a last resort, many are discouraged, hungry, and for lack of a better word-desperate. Marie’s* soon to be ex-husband had cleaned out their bank account, taken every dime, left her and her three children with a box of saltine crackers and five months of past due rent. I remember sending her to Violeta. I knew if there was anything we could help her with Violeta would be the one. “V” has a ton of experience and would do her best to help.

Marie* looked great. Her attitude was confident and her demeanor was that of a woman going places. “You helped me so much at Coastside Hope, I got a great job now. My citizenship classes are over next week, soon I’ll be a citizen.”  I was blown away! It was so rewarding to see a cart with fresh vegetables, milk and know that because of Coastside Hope, Marie* had the CalFresh that helped feed her family, CalFresh that she might not have had if she hadn’t found Coastside Hope.

I, personally had done so little for Marie* but to her I was the face of Coastside Hope. I was so proud of all she’d accomplished. I was so glad that there was a Coastside Hope to help her. That I live in a community where everyone matters and I represent “hope.”





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