My husband and I decided, after giving birth to two healthy sons, that we wanted to adopt a special needs child. It was the early 1980s and we wanted to give special needs children a family to join rather than the institutional living that was the norm. We had worked extensively with special needs adults in group homes so we knew the potential of these children. We believed that, when raised using God’s principles, they could thrive and fit into society as well as any “normal” child. With a loving family and proper upbringing they would be able to show the world that they were created by God and have as much value as anyone else.
Back then we never imagined that we would provide a home for several foster children, and eventually go on to adopt twenty-four children alongside our four birth children.
We made the decision to never ask for help (unless an emergency occurred) but when it was offered we were grateful. We learned to budget well and whenever things looked bad, God always provided. This past year, much to our surprise, a door was opened. We were referred to United Food Force Inc.
On our first pickup we were surprised and thrilled to receive a huge amount of food and household supplies. Our minivan was loaded with frozen foods, diapers, tissues, toilet paper, bleach, snacks, juice, sodas, cakes, beans, rice, etc., etc!!
We received things that we never felt we could afford with our budget, such as yogurt, tissues, easy prep foods, snack bars and even high-end cleaning supplies! For our kids it is like Christmas every week! They wait with excitement to see what new items we will get.
United Food Force has improved our life in so many ways! There are no words to say how much this gift has meant to us. We are so grateful and thank them so very, very much.
Dear United Food Force,
I am so thankful I was a member of United Food Force as a food source for my family. Last year when my best friend Stephanie Dozier, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 33 and a wife and mother of three was struggling with sickness from chemo and radiation, she could hardly care for her children much less preparing the daily meals. Stephanie had both breasts removed in the spring of 2014.
What better way to help her than to share my groceries and help her when needed from sharing my food from United Food Force with her and her family.
I sometimes took her to chemo and radiation treatments and helped out when I could. Thanks to the United Food Force I was able to help two families, my own and Stephanie’s.
We are both fighters and survivors, as I have severe Crohn’s disease and stay sick most days and Stephanie, well I am glad to report is “Cancer Free”!!!
Thank you again for allowing me through the United Food Force to make a difference in the life of another Family!
Thank you for what you do!!
Michelle Lee Austin
As I sit here and think about what hope and compassion mean to me I can't help but to be completely overwhelmed with a feeling of awe. A feeling so strong it consumes my heart. A feeling so strong it has left me completely speechless. See I'm someone who has known sorrow of feeling like I'd failed as a parent. Someone who has known worry of do they understand? Someone who has known fear of how will I provide? Someone who has known struggle of not be able to make the ends meet. I'm someone who's experienced what is is like being in the valley of lows. I'm someone who has found herself on my knees, face down pleading with the Lord to show me His will and reason and lift me back to my feet again. Praying to him to within His timing make my darkness bright and promising to fully trust that no struggle or worry I could ever have would be bigger than Him.
It was at my lowest where I finally found my refuge. For His promises remained true. Out of the valley He brought me up and out of my darkness He lead me to a path where along the way I'd meet some of the most amazing people He'd ever created. It was then I found the hope I had lost. My fears were calmed and my worry was no more. My path began with getting the chance to meet one of the most precious women on this earth. Our friendship began in a parking lot where the Lord destined us to meet. There I was able to briefly share my story with her and through my tears she listened and showed me compassion like I'd never been shown before. She saw past all of my darkness and struggle and yet still chose to embrace me and pray the most powerful prayer over me, A prayer of hope and encouragement. A prayer that was just what I needed to remind me that no matter how low I was and how far I had fallen the Lord would always be there to pick me up and that I was His beautiful child who He loved no matter what. I left from meeting her with a new found hope and a new sureness that things would get better for me and my family. It was then that I finally realized the only way for me to go was up and that's just what I did!
Through lots of prayer and loads of trust I laid everything at the Lords feet. I gave Him every last worry and ounce of sorrow. The next few weeks He proved once again He was mighty and right on time. Things started to change for my family. I had decided to reach out again to my new precious friend that I had recently met and without hesitation she was there arms wide open, heart receptive and ready to pour every ounce of love and compassion into my call for help. Through her quick response to my plea I quickly was put in touch with another precious woman whose heart was also open and ready to serve. Again I was shown that very same compassion and love by a total stranger. Neither of us had ever officially met and had only spoke through text, yet she to showed compassion and love to me by sharing with my family food she had gathered from hers. I was again left speechless and through tears I thanked her over and over. That night she encouraged me by letting me know she had once been right where I was and to hold my head up, things would get better.
As the next few weeks passed things continued to become more hopeful for us. Through the hands of God and my new friends I just met, my journey lead me to an amazing place, a place where compassion was seen in the eyes and felt through the smiles of the people there. They give so graciously and they’re awesome people who worked there as volunteers serving countless others in need and who don't get paid, NOT because they are worthless volunteers BUT because THEY ARE PRICELESS! They are volunteers who were special people. People who even through the busiest of times never failed to make each and every person served there felt like they were loved. This place is a happy place, where hunger is washed away and judgments are not made and hope is given. A place nestled away behind a few other buildings in its own great building space that's held together with pure love. This place is a truly incredible food bank called United Food Force. United Food Force food bank IS hope. Hope for the many people who go there. It's compassion. It's where a person can go seeking help and leave feeling inspired and where everyone's story matters and where everyone is someone. I'm someone who found my hope United Food Force food bank. My life has been impacted by the pure kindness that's found there. Through the heartwarming smiles and the genuine joy of giving my family and I have been greatly blessed by being a part of this food bank. I can humbly say that my life has indeed been impacted by them. The sweet people, total strangers, hard-working volunteers and United Food Force food bank will always hold a special place in my heart. For without them the meaning of hope and compassion wouldn't be as clear.
This is my story. This is my truth on what it's like to be so greatly impacted by awesome strangers who are my friends. What it’s like to be so greatly impacted by an amazing organization like United Food Force. I'll always hold a special place in my heart for everyone I met along the way and especially for United Food Force.
The fact that my household went from not having enough to put on the table to having over abundance is such a blessing from United Food Force! With my abundance of goodies seeing as the group is made up of only me and my mother I have been able to donate to the school candies cookies and cakes!!! And have been able to feed my children without worrying about where the next meal was going to come from. Seeing as it's only me and my mother in our food bank group you can imagine we have a lot of bread! After stocking my grandmother each week on all the goodies that we get constantly I still have so much left over including bread! Lots and lots of bread to bless people with. A good friend of mine brought an idea to my attention. There are so many homeless people in various counties surrounding us in the bigger counties surrounding us there are so many more they have to brave this cold that we have the luxury of having heat in and have to sleep in it which breaks my heart. We came up with an idea all of the bread that we get we can put in the freezer we can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all the rice and beans we get we can make rice and beans to distribute that are already cooked she's already gotten the containers with lids. And making homemade knapsacks that are sewn together with hygienic products. There are so many people surrounding us that have no hope because of what they have been dealt. So if I can take my blessings of being able to feed my children I can take my blessings and feed extra people that may have lost hope in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bowl of hot beans could do so much for one person. Our plan is to do this once or twice or more a month. We have been in contact with the right authorities to get the okay and they have said it's a great idea I'm super excited to see how this comes out! I have always said if I was rich I wouldn't really be rich because I would try to help every man woman and child that needed help due to poverty and homelessness i know we can't change it all but we can sure try the smallest ripple makes the biggest effect!!! Thanks United Food Force.
“We all try to help those we know are in need: the homeless, the widowed, the orphaned. Sometimes the hungry are sitting right there in plain sight...yet they do not complain, they do not cry, convince you everything is perfect.”
This happened to me. I was "forcing" my leftovers on my very best friend when I first started with United Food Force. I begged her, loaded her car when she wasn’t looking and handed her the last box when she was about to leave. Between United Food Force and coupons she was stocked for a good long while and I felt like I had cleaned out my house. She sat down on the dining room chair and just cried. She had been struggling for months to feed her daughter. Making excuses for not eating each night. She had applied for help but made $1.21 too much to qualify. She was truly not doing well. I had noticed her cupboards were bare but she had excused them for lack of time to go shopping. I asked if she had lost weight but she said she was running her stairs 20 times each night. She was just too embarrassed.
You never would have known it. She was there for anyone that asked. She had it all together. She kept a smile on her face. She had even made a macaroni dish for a sick friend and I only found out that day that she had used the last of her noodles, milk and cheese for the month to do so. She claims I helped her that day. I was really the one that was helped. You have to look deeper than the surface. Struggle sometimes comes in the sweetest packages that we can't tell by looking.
Now that I work closely with a local school I am realizing there are many kids that go home hungry every day. You wouldn’t believe how many people in my small town who really could not even afford an extra gallon of milk each month. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a new kid come home with my kids and ask for a snack. When they open my double pantry and see all the extras we have their eyes shine. Those kids hold a special place in my heart....and they take whatever they want and I send them home with more. Thank you United Food Force!