What They Say!

 “I ran a successful business and was content in my life with a loving husband and two wonderful children. But nothing was ever the same after I declared bankruptcy,” said Cristina while she recalled her past.
“Each day was more difficult than the last as I had no job, little to no money, and barely any means to help myself out of the situation,” she said.
Days turned into months, but the never-ending misery continued for her. “I was worried sick about my children, I wondered what they had done to deserve this life. Like any mother, I thought my two children deserved nothing but the best. I wanted to shower them with unconditional love, support and comfort, but I was failing in my attempts,” she said.
“In order to keep them happy and well-fed, I started to starve myself as I was unable to afford food for all. Every time my kids asked me to sit down with them to eat, I made excuses and told them that I was full,” she said.
“Time flew by, things were the same until the day I collapsed and was taken to the hospital. I thought I was going to die as the doctors told me my organs were slowly shutting down. I was scared! I was scared for my kids, who embraced me as they feared I was on my last legs of my life,” she said, her voice breaking down.
“When my children left my side, a cop approached me and asked me what had happened. After he heard my story, he excused himself and came back with a cup of coffee and a piece of paper that mentioned the phone contact information of Knights Table,” she said.
“During my hospital stay, whenever he came by, he always asked me if I had the contact number of the place,” she said.
Following her discharge, she visited Knights Table, a food bank and a community kitchen which has been serving the peel region for over 27 years.
“As I walked through the doors, I felt comfortable and accepted. I was greeted with friendly smiles and people who didn’t judge me for my situation,” she said.
While vividly recalling her first visit and more, she said, “I was not just provided with food but also with other necessities. Under different programs, my kids got help with their education and other activities. I will forever be grateful to Knights Table for the constant support and help.”
“It gave me new hope and a better perspective of life,” she added.
At present, Cristina is doing well for herself. She also helps people who are miserable and vulnerable.
She believes that she cannot change the world alone but can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.
Cristina’s story can be anyone’s story. Even with the highly developed market economy, poverty seems to be a big threat to humanity in Canada. As per Canada Without Poverty statistics, 1 in 7 people live in poverty. As per Peel District School Board report, 1 in 5 children live in poverty.
Many community kitchens such as Knights Table help in alleviating hunger in the community and supporting the homeless. Every donation made or volunteering attempt makes the world a better place to live in. This Thanksgiving, let’s join hands together in supporting and empowering the community.

Story told by: Cristina
Written by: Devyaani

 … the most valuable thing I learned from the experience today is that you cannot judge people based on the fact that they need help and not take things for granted because life happens and you can end up with nothing and no place to call home.

Choices Retreat Participant,
-Michael 15 years old.

 Sarah a single mother of two came to Knights Table for the first time by herself. She was really struggling with no longer being able to support her family – she had never needed help before and coming to ask for aid was more than she could handle. As Sarah said afterwards, she was extremely nervous during her first visit as she didn’t know what to expect and was afraid she would not qualify for assistance. But the staff was patient, kind and understanding. She went through the intake and was approved to use the foodbank and other programs. That day she received an emergency food basket and then loaded up her shopping cart with cereal, juice, tuna, soup, pasta, milk, bread and even fresh kale that was donated by a local farm. It was enough to supplement her family for an entire month. She broke down in tears, as she thanked the volunteer who helped her that day. She said, “I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was, and that this food was available to us during such a difficult time.

 I know that my son Adam wasn’t doing well in school, but I didn’t know how to help him with his homework. I dropped out of high school and I want my son to do good. I am so happy that my friend told me about Knights Table. I get help from the foodbank which we need and my son gets help with his homework. Adam is doing a lot better even the teachers say so and I know he’s more confident. I can’t thank Knights Table enough. It’s just me and Adam and Knights Table is now our family.

-Natalie & Adam

 Kathy moved to Brampton with her daughter to be near family after a terrible divorce destroyed her family and ended her job. Finding herself with practically nothing, she turned to Knights Table for help. She was raising her child on her own and rebuilding her life from scratch. “The food we received was a life saver for us. But this place also is inspir­ing to see so many people helping each other. Working with the staff and volunteers here gave me so much more than food. It gave me hope and a safe haven.” This summer Kathy finally completed the Social Services program that she started in Vancouver and this fall with the help of the STEP UP Employment program she begins working two jobs and raising her daughter.

 … I know am getting old and nobody wants me anymore. My son kicked me out of his house because of his wife. I heard about Knights Table from one of their workers and went there for help. I am happy I did. I get help from the foodbank and I go there and have a meal and talk to people. Sometimes I am so depressed and when I go there everyone is friendly and encouraging and wanting to help with whatever situation I am dealing with. I am in pain because of arthritis and sometimes can’t make it to get my foodbank, but I can get something good to eat there when I don’t have food to cook. God bless everybody at Knights Table what will I and everybody do if we don’t have our second home.

-Gloria 75 years old.

 The Real Heroes.

the youngster’s speech on poverty having adults in tears … my thanks go out to Radhika Panjwani for writing the article, and about the Knights Table … acts of kind­ness come in all shapes and sizes, so I encourage Bramptonians to do an act of kindness for someone. We all have hearts, big or small. We can all donate something, be it warm clothing, food, gift cards or just a hug and kind words of encouragement. We live in Canada.

Louise Foster-Martin.
Letter to the Editor, The Real Heroes.
Brampton Guardian.