A former client named Yesol reached out recently with a donation for Loaves & Fishes. She included this beautiful letter. Her story captures the hope and strength that family and community can provide and the impact it can make in someone’s life.
I was a teenager when my family settled in Naperville in the late 90’s as immigrants from South Korea. My mother started working immediately and took care of the family for a while, until she was diagnosed with advanced cancer. She had to undergo rounds of chemotherapy and surgeries. She achieved remission but the treatment left her extremely weak and she could no longer work.
My stepfather did not provide for the family (she eventually divorced him) and there was only so much we could get from my part time job and help from the relatives. She and I survived with assistance from Township, and food from Loaves & Fishes. Once I graduated high school, my mother and I moved away, and I joined the Air Force soon after. I ended up being discharged before my 4-year commitment due to medical reasons, but I received GI bill benefits which I used to go to a nursing school. That was almost 20 years ago.
There were still challenging times, but gradually I was heading towards a better place, feeling secure and more confident.
My mother is doing well and in good health, all things considered. After many years of working and studying in California, I recently moved to a rural town in Idaho with my husband to pursue graduate studies, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. In fact, it was during going through my old stuff after the move that I started looking back my childhood. I was flooded with emotion when I found Loaves & Fishes website, and I needed to return what I could to the place where my mother and I only received and left, and also wanted to convey to people there that their efforts save lives and nourish (literally!) future generations. I worked in an oncology unit with bone marrow transplant specialty. We nurses delighted whenever our old patients would visit, unrecognizable with newly grown hair and healthy glow. Similarly, I thought people at Loaves & Fishes might delight to hear back from people they helped (even if different generations!).