On a summer day in 2019, Halley sorted grapefruits in our warehouse, volunteering alongside co-workers. Like all of us, she had no idea what 2020 would bring. Like many of our participants, she never thought she’d turn to Community Food Share for help.
“We were in our best financial place ever at the end of 2019,” Halley recalls. As Senior Sales Manager in her international travel company’s top team, she was earning a consistent monthly commission on top of her base salary. Reveling in professional success, Halley and her wife, Niina, upgraded to a nice apartment in Lafayette. Then COVID-19 hit, and like dominoes, every piece of their financial security began to fall.
First Niina lost her Vet Assistant job. Then Halley watched with panic as international travel halted and most of her co-workers were laid off or furloughed; her salary took a cut as her commission extinguished. Locked into their lease, the high monthly bills soon dried up their savings. As someone who had never accrued debt before, it was alarming: “I was like, ‘I don’t have savings. I’ve always had savings.’ We literally didn’t know how we were going to make it week to week.”
With a shoestring staff, Halley was working long days for the travel agency. She woke up early to teach English online as a second source of income, cut every frill in their budget, and moved monthly bills to payment plans, but it still wasn’t enough. Finally, a year after her first volunteer shift, Halley pulled into Community Food Share — this time entering the drive-through pantry. She and Niina sat weeping with gratitude as groceries were loaded into their trunk.
Shortly after, they took waste management positions at their apartment complex, adding a third job to Halley’s plate. Seven days a week, they worked nights together. “With that, we were able to get enough for our grocery budget, so we ended up not going back [to Community Food Share],” she explains, “but we knew that we could go at any time so that was, emotionally, a big relief. If my body doesn’t hold out, and I can’t do this job, I can still eat every day.”
Your support provided the one-time reprieve that Halley and Niina needed to pull through. When asked what she would say to you, our donors, Halley responded, “Thanks for giving us a chance to catch up and the hope to start moving forward.”