For Debra, the pandemic was the push to seek help for the first time

In her late fifties, rapid and severe degeneration in Debra’s eyes led to an unexpected, early retirement from the nurse practitioner career she cherished. Today, at the age of 62, Debra is legally blind.

Despite this life-altering disability, Debra has persisted as the optimistic, academic, and fiercely independent woman she’s always been. A few years away from collecting the full retirement payouts that she has earned, Debra relies primarily on her savings. She remains mobile by using public transportation.

“I was a person who never asked for help,” she explains. Owing much of this to her upbringing and her long-lasting service as a medical provider, most of her life has been spent giving help rather than receiving it.

March 2020 arrived, and this was no longer an option. As an aging woman with a disability, Debra is considered high-risk for COVID-19; stepping onto a crowded bus for a trip to the grocery store became too unsafe. For her, like for many others in our community and our country, the pandemic was a tipping point — the push that caused her to seek help for the first time.

A woman wearing glasses sits with her hands clasped on her front porch

“I was a person who never asked for help,” Debra explained. Photos courtesy of EB Bollendonk.

The combination of her shrinking savings account and the inability to shop for her own food led Debra to pick up the phone…though it wasn’t an easy step for her to take. “I finally realized I really could use some help. I, very hesitantly, allowed myself to let go of my lifelong philosophy that you don’t ask anyone for help. And I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to go ahead and call Community Food Share.’”

Shortly after that brave phone call, Debra began receiving weekly grocery deliveries from our food bank. Six months in, she shared with us: “Because of Community Food Share, I’ve been able to do the things I love like cook and preserve food. That makes me happy, and it keeps me busy even though I can’t see.”

Your support provides more than just food: it shows neighbors like Debra that we all need a little help sometimes, and it’s okay to ask for it. Thanks to you, she not only has the food that she needs, she’s able to spend time doing the things that bring her joy. At a time like this, that means the world to us — and to Debra.

This story originally appeared in our Fall 2020 Newsletter