Sharyn grew up in the San Fernando Valley where she currently lives with her husband and three children. Like many families, they live off one income while tending to all of the needs of the children. Sharyn and her husband are fortunate to have an income but have experienced what so many others have—the dollar just doesn’t go as far as it once did.
Sharyn and her family live in an apartment just down the street from Freedom Church, which hosts a food pantry every Wednesday. During the pandemic, money was tight, but when her husband was injured on the job, the need to stretch the dollar became even more important.
Sharyn had never stood in a food line before, but now times were different. She saw the signs for the food distribution, so she began attending each week to get the food that was provided. It was such a blessing to her family.
For many, receiving the much-needed food at a pantry location is where the story ends, and it is a blessing for the Rescue Mission Alliance Valley Food Bank to be able to meet that need. But for Sharyn, getting food was just the beginning, as she had a desire to give back and serve.
“We are a scouting family, so serving and volunteering was something that we knew to do,” Sharyn said. Around Christmas last year, she saw signs that said the church could use some help with wrapping presents for children. She signed up to volunteer and hasn’t stopped.
Sharyn is at the church most Tuesdays to help prepare and organize for distribution day, and then she returns on Wednesdays to help with distributing the food. Serving others at the pantry has become contagious, and when Sharyn’s children are available, they too volunteer.
“I enjoy serving others, and I have made some great connections with others who are also there serving every week,” Sharyn said.
Beyond food, Sharyn has been shown support and encouragement, especially when her father was in the hospital. In March, Sharyn’s dad went into cardiac arrest on his way home from work. Sharyn’s sister, who was with him, began doing chest compressions, and the first responders took over when they arrived. They continued to work on him, and Sharyn said that “they shocked him eight times.” Over 40 minutes passed before they were able to get a heartbeat.
While in the hospital, the medical team implanted a defibrillator. They also lowered her dad’s body temperature so that he could heal from the trauma. Sharyn knew she needed prayer for her dad and family, so the first thing she did was walk down the street to Freedom Church. She knew a food pantry friend hosted a group on campus, but when she arrived, the friend had already left. Yet, through another friend, God provided for Sharyn. This friend stopped what she was doing, listened, and prayed with Sharyn. She mentioned the situation to her food pantry family the next week, and they also began praying for her dad.
After many weeks and prayers, and by God’s grace, her dad made a full recovery and has been released to return to work. “During this time, my dad has been unable to work. Something that has meant a lot to me is that I have been able to take him a box of food each week from the food pantry. That has helped so much.”
The distribution that takes place at Freedom Church in Chatsworth provides food for 250 and 300 families each Wednesday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sharyn thought she was seeking means to meet her family’s physical needs, but what she got was an extended family that cares, loves, and prays with and for her.