This week, in support of Bread for the City’s Holiday Helpings Campaign, People’s District will tell five stories on the people affected by and fighting against hunger and poverty in D.C. Today’s story comes from Ruby, a Bread for the City food recipient. You can see the other stories here.
“My parents were share croppers in South Carolina. They moved us up to D.C. when I was just a child to find a better life. Thing is that when we all got up here, my Momma got a job cleaning houses in New York. My grandmother raised me over by where the Convention Center is now, and my Momma would come home on holidays. It wasn’t easy, but I appreciate the sacrifice that she made for me.
“Back then, life was good and easy, you know what I am saying. Going to the movies wasn’t nothing but nine cents and I would collect soda bottles to have enough money to see the films. I remember when the movies went up to ten cents and I was all mad because it was too darn expensive. That will tell you how old I am, even though you probably think that I am still young and beautiful.
“When I had to start working, I took a job at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and stayed until I retired on September 30, 1993. I did everything there, and I mean everything. I was an information receptionist, so I was the first person you saw in the morning and the last person you saw at night. I moved to medical maintenance, and then left there to work in the red building where they do the experiments with the animals. You know them animal people still get upset when I tell them what I did, but we needed the animals to help cure diseases. I saw a lot of people get help because of those animals.
“After I retired, I was looking forward to sitting back and enjoying life with my babies and grandbabies. But, my aunt got sick, so I left D.C and moved to Massachusetts to take care of her. When I came back in 1995, things were hard on me because I had to take care of all of my grandbabies, too. I had three kids, but one of them passed in 2004. For a lot of reasons, I had to take care of all of their kids. I did it because I had to, but it was supposed to be my retirement. I am now raising my last granbaby, and then I hope I can relax because I am 68 and tired.
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“When I realized that I needed help feeding all of these extra mouths, I first came to Bread for the City in 1995. I needed food and milk for the kids and quilts in the winter time and didn’t know where else to go. On my small pension, I couldn’t afford to buy stuff that could support all of us. Because I was from the neighborhood, I knew about Bread. I wasn’t ashamed or nothing to ask for help because when it is about your babies, ain’t no one who is too proud to beg to put food on the table. When I was working, I never had to go with no food, so it scared me to see myself and my babies not having enough to eat.
“I thank Bread for helping me to improve my situation. They gave me the things that I needed when my kids were cold and hungry. I tell you, it’s a blessing. Because I see how they helped me, I try and help others. I volunteer at the National Capital Area Food Bank, and help at my church. See, I don’t only feed my family, but I try and feed many, many families with the assistance I receive. With my holiday helpings, I am going to make a big meal and share it with the other families in need. You best believe that.”
Bread for the City’s Holiday Helpings campaign provides low-income D.C. residents with a turkey and all the trimmings so that they may enjoy a celebratory meal at home with their families. This year they expect to serve more than 8,000 families. You can help! Just $29 provides Holiday Helpings for a family of four. Make a donation here, and to learn more about operating a food or cash drive in your workplace or community group, contact Nathan LaBorie at [email protected] or 202.386.7611.