Unemployed, broke and living in a house without heat, Carolyn Smith was in need of much more than food when she visited a food pantry operated by Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV) in Dayton. And turns out, she got more. Along with the food, she received self-sufficiency counseling, which turned her life around.
Carolyn met with a CSSMV care manager who provided encouragement, information and referrals to community resources. A utility payment plan was arranged, her gas service was restored and she was accepted into the Senior Worker Program sponsored by Goodwill in Dayton. The CSSMV care manager also advocated for Carolyn and helped her successfully apply for a pension from her former employer and advised her as she arranged care and nutritional support for her autistic adult son with special needs.
“I was so depressed because I had no way to help myself or my son,” explains Smith. “I had worked all of my life and still had no means to pay my bills or buy food. I am so grateful for the pantry food assistance, but certainly needed the encouragement and support. I could barely leave my house and really felt alone with my troubles. At Catholic Social Services, I found hope.”
Today, Carolyn is a volunteer and senior worker. Most every weekday, she is working at CSSMV’s Choice Food Pantry, where she greets and gives an encouraging smile to her fellow Dayton residents and assists first time visitors to the pantry. She has walked in their shoes.
“I want each person who comes to the pantry to feel comfortable when they need assistance. I want them to know they are not alone, and they can find their paths to a better life. I am grateful for the help I have received, and, by helping others, I can pass on blessings I have received,” says Smith.
CSSMV provides over 18,000 food distributions and offers supportive case management and life skills education to needy client families in Dayton.