“I can make a change in people’s lives.”

“I grew up poor. I never wanted my children to see it.”

A difficult divorce and an illness that left her daughter disabled turned Terry Hale’s world upside down. Terry, a client and volunteer at the Good Samaritan Christian Soldiers food pantry in Roanoke, tries to make ends meet on disability benefits and income from a part-time job. Like so many of FASWVA’s clients, Terry doesn’t qualify for SNAP benefits, and she struggles to put food on the table.

“I have always felt blessed coming (to the pantry),” she says. “It makes me see I’m not the only one out there who is struggling.”

Terry lives in Bedford with her 20-year-old son Logan and 24-year-old daughter, Layna.

“Layna had planned to go to college and become a nurse before she got sick,” Terry says quietly,

When she was 18, Layna contracted a rare form of encephalitis. At one point, “She couldn’t feed or dress herself,” Terry explains. She has made great strides over the years, but without additional treatment (requiring approval from their insurance company) she will regress.

Terry was excited to recently learn of FASWVA’s Culinary Training Program at the Community Solutions Center and hopes Layna can enroll in an upcoming cohort. “It would help her in so many ways,” Terry says.
At the pantry, Terry gestures toward the surrounding racks of bread and canned goods. “This is what feeds our family,” she says.

The fresh fruits and vegetables Terry receives from the pantry mean everything to her. “My kids just eat them up. We wouldn’t be able to afford them if we didn’t get them here.”

Her love of the Christian Soldiers pantry led her to begin volunteering there.

“We’ve become a family,” Terry says, smiling. “I’m helping. I can make a change in people’s lives.”

“Donations of money and food mean everything,” Terry says emphatically. “Without them, we would not be able to help the people who come here.

“You can see the pain in their eyes,” she says, wiping tears from her own face. “I have been hungry. I know that feeling. We see the appreciation of those who come through the line – people who couldn’t otherwise feed their families.”