There is no doubt the last 2-plus years have been difficult on everyone. Challenges such as Covid, lockdowns and inflation know no boundaries. None of these issues have ever taken into consideration someone’s background, education, marital status or even credit score. We’ve all been affected one way or another but despite all of these obstacles, one of the greatest things I have seen is the rise of generosity. Wherever there is a major need, people all over are stepping up to help.
Never had I imagined that the war in Ukraine would be affecting the Valley Food Bank in Pacoima, California of all places. That all changed when I met Yuri just a few weeks ago. Yuri is a young man in his 20s, a refugee from Ukraine. I love Ukraine—I spent 30 days over there myself during the summer of 2002. The people are kind, loving and very hospitable. Their country is beautiful with green rolling hills and wheat fields the size of many football stadiums. That once beautiful country is now war torn, the orphanages I volunteered at are now destroyed. Those cities I visited have been decimated.
Yuri, is a product of this war. He came to the doorstep of the Valley Food Bank as a young man trying to survive in a world that he is lost in. Two weeks from having stepped off a plane in a country that did not speak his language, share his customs or have family or friends to lean into during these difficult times, he came to the Valley Food Bank looking for hope.
That word “hope” means the confident expectation that something good is going to happen. How much hope do you think Yuri had after losing his city, his home and everything that was dear to him? I’ll be honest, it wasn’t much. In fact, it’s not just Yuri but weekly we are seeing new Ukrainian family refugees show up at our distribution center looking for hope. Children are coming along as sometimes they are the only ones able to speak the very little English they know.
I’m proud that at the Valley Food Bank our staff and amazing volunteers are not only carriers of hope, but we give it tangibly. We bless every family and individual that shows up with a generous cart full of groceries containing fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy and more. We even find toys to give to the children to help find some comfort during this difficult season.
I want to say thank you to all of our faithful donors. Without your generosity, it wouldn’t have been possible to help Yuri or the other families from Ukraine who have experienced so much pain and uncertainty. Unfortunately the need is not getting smaller, but I’m thankful to be a part of the solution.
We can’t do everything, but we must do something. You can be a part of our team and see hope change lives by continuing to give, or increasing your giving or frequency by visiting us at valleyfoodbank.org.
Holding on to hope,
Director, Valley Food Bank