Terry had three kids to feed and no idea how to do it.
She had no job. And her family’s source of income – her significant other – had just walked out the door.
The future looked dim. Then she saw the Lighthouse.
Lighthouse of Hope Community Center in Lake Wales welcomed Terry and her family, fed and ministered to them – is even helping them get their own home in east Polk County, through Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers will build it next spring.
Lighthouse was able to put food on Terry’s table because it is one of nearly 250 member agencies of Agape Food Bank in Lakeland, a United Way supported program. Agape collects and distributes 5 million pounds of donated food every year. The United Way supports programs for emergency assistance, basic needs like food and shelter, and intervention in violence, abuse and neglect. When local residents face a family crisis, the United Way is there to help them get back on their feet.
“Hunger is a serious issue in Polk County,” said Brenda Reddout, Western Region director of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, which operates Agape. A Gallup poll shows that one in three households with children struggled in the past year to put food on their table. That’s the third highest rate of “food hardship” in the nation.
Lighthouse serves breakfast to more than 60 families every Sunday and gives away dozens of boxes of food every week that it receives through Agape.
Two years after finding help at Lighthouse, Terry continues as a member of the community center. Only, now, she’s a leader there, helping to fill the boxes that feed the needy.
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