It isn’t obvious from Gilbert’s friendly smile that he’s been through tough times. The Tri-Cities resident shared his story as he selected fresh produce and other groceries at Harvest Outreach Food Bank, a Second Harvest partner agency and ministry of Word of Faith Church in Kennewick.
Gilbert began visiting the food bank when his seasonal employment wound down. He moved to the Tri-Cities 15 years ago and lives alone in Kennewick. He receives some food stamps and is currently working with several agencies to find employment. “The past few months have been tight,” he commented. “I greatly appreciate the food. I’ve been buying less meat, and there’s a lot of produce here that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself. The variety of foods is amazing.”
Having to ask for help with food has added to Gilbert’s struggles. Tragedy struck recently when he lost his 8-year-old adopted daughter, Diana, to cancer. Gilbert adopted Diana when she was 3 months old.
Gilbert has found strength in sharing his story and in giving and receiving support from others. He especially appreciates Harvest Outreach’s soup kitchen, where he can visit with others while enjoying a hot meal prepared by local chefs who volunteer their time and talent. “It’s so friendly, warm and inviting, and the attitude of the volunteers is amazing. You listen to others’ stories and give each other support. You feel like you’re not so alone. You always know you’re going to meet somebody special.”
Family, friends and faith remain a strong foundation for Gilbert as he adjusts to life without his daughter. Since life’s unexpected turns are among the reasons people need food assistance, Gilbert encourages others to support Second Harvest. “They should go ahead and do it,” he said. “People are so grateful for it and so appreciative. They will be blessed many times over for giving.”