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Holding onto hope

A rush of emotion washed over Becky’s face as I described the Better Alamance mission: to strengthen community involvement in Alamance County. Including raising awareness about poverty and hunger.

“Let me just say…I have a different story than a lot. I live in an apartment and I have two teenage boys, 13 and 15. We aren’t homeless,” says Becky, a client at Allied Churches food pantry. Without hesitation, Becky opens up.

“Drinking and driving and drugs got me here, to the bottom of the totem pole,” said Becky, looking around, in reference to the food pantry. A brace squeezes her left ankle and calf together. A scar from a drunk driving accident years ago, she says, unabashedly.

“At the time, I was high on the world,” Becky says. “But I’m not 18 anymore.” Despite her hardships, Becky’s attitude remains hopeful. Her demeanor is evident of a hard working, fatigued, mother of two. Her articulateness a rarity among the chaos.

Becky says she’s thankful for the food pantry’s generosity. It takes a lot to feed teenage boys. It’s hard raising them, she says, with a sigh of exhaustion any parent could recognize.

“I try to be a good Christian mom,” says Becky, “and bring church into their lives.”

Becky’s struggle to raise her boys comes from her past drug and alcohol abuse and the boys’ absent father. She’s raised them on her own, she says, moving them around to different cities before finally stopping in Graham. The schools in Alamance County are good, and you need an education to do anything these days, Becky says.

However, where she lives now is “like a smaller version of the projects; there are no baby daddies here,” she says. Becky recognizes the temptation for drugs in an environment like that. She pauses to recount memories.

“Drugs are not all it’s cracked up to be,” Becky says. She wouldn’t wish the emotional depths drugs and alcohol tore her through on anyone. With a pause, and a resurgence of optimism, Becky confesses that she hopes her story can help others. “I don’t want to see you who I am today.”

Allied Churches has helped her put food on the table for her and her sons. It’s hard though, she admits. Becky explains that she often has to ration out the food in their cupboard to prepare for the week. Her sons ask her why their food is organized so methodically. She looks down in anguish, “It’s all we’ve got.” Although she’s thankful for help from the food pantry, it’s difficult to accept sometimes, she says.

“I don’t belong in this spot right here,” says Becky, as she motions to the few others waiting in line to collect their food. “I was raised differently.”

Becky’s story is probably a lot more common than she thinks. About 20 percent of Alamance County is considered impoverished. That’s one in every five people.

She grapples with our suggestion to photograph her or record her voice. She seems down on herself. Disappointed, even. Then, she remembers her likely impact on others by sharing her experiences. Becky pauses to adjust her attitude to optimism.

“Life itself wears you out, it wears you down…But, I know I can tell a story.”

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