As I walk around the Grocery space looking at the shelves, I hope we have enough cans of soup and other things we are offering, for everyone that comes to us looking for food. In over 20 years of the Grocery’s operation, many coordinators have had the same hope. There is nothing worse than having to tell people that we have run out of the item they needed most. Sometimes it is milk, sometimes soup. Either way, it is a sad occasion when we have to say we don’t have enough for everyone. It happens.
I remember the first time I came through the Grocery with my dad. I was scared and I felt ashamed. Though there was no reason to be ashamed (or scared for that matter), I was! I expected we would be treated like a number and have no right to expect anything other than the scraps of society’s leftovers. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I was immediately put at ease by the smiles and the gentle manner of the people working in the Grocery. My dad was a kind and gentle soul himself, and I am so very proud to deliver this program now, in his honor.
I myself know the impact on a family when a member is diagnosed with HIV. How everything becomes uncertain. Every day I try to make a difference. My name is Heidi, and I am the Grocery Coordinator for AIDS Vancouver.
I say a little prayer to myself as I greet the volunteers that will help me run the distribution. I pray a little harder when I look out into the hallway and see all the people who are waiting to come through and get a bag of food. I see all the faces and I want to reach in and hold their hearts, take some of their struggles away. I know I can’t do this, so I try to give some love along with the food. People are coming through quickly and the scene is one of chaos. There are hellos and goodbyes and people trying to stay out of each other’s way. The occasional carton of eggs gets dropped. “Clean up in the Grocery aisle”, someone jokes. It really is something to witness. Clients check in at the computer and then take a basket to collect the food we are offering. It is set up like a small grocery, because we believe that people have a right to choose their food, rather than just be handed a bag. We believe there is dignity in this process.
I think that if you could get to know some of our people, you would want to help them too. You would see the hope, the struggles and the inner strength that we see each and every day. I hope you are inspired to help them by helping us to help them. Won’t you please send us a charitable donation today? Just $25.00 will feed one person and for $100.00 an entire family. The AIDS Vancouver Grocery Program became a beacon of hope, understanding, and solace for dad and myself. Please help me keep that beacon shining.