You Helped Me Get the Life I Have Today

Nancy, a retired lawyer, reflects back to the difference one food hamper made for her when she was a young university student.

The day that Nancy realized she was out of food was a tough one.

“It was really embarrassing to have to ask for help,” said Nancy. “It was deeply humiliating. But I was desperate.”

Back in 1969, the 17-year-old had just started her studies at the University of Waterloo. Nancy was all set for her new stage of life to begin. But her student loan money hadn’t arrived, and Nancy had nothing to eat.

“I didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t ask my mom for help,” said Nancy.

When Nancy was only eight years old, her father died of a heart attack at the young age of 42.

“My father just died on the spot,” said Nancy. “It was a terrible shock. We were living a nice, middle class life until this happened.”

Instead, everything became a struggle for Nancy’s family.

After her father’s sudden death, Nancy’s mom stayed at home for several years, caring for Nancy’s younger siblings.

When she returned to work, there was often very little money left over, after paying the bills and buying groceries.

When Nancy started university, she was on her own and had to figure out how to manage until her student loan money came in. She found part-time work but it wasn’t enough. She needed food.

“A friend suggested we could get some food from House of Friendship. I was really emotional, and I didn’t want to do it. But I didn’t know what else to do.”

She went to pick up her hamper, and received a few tins of beans, a loaf of bread, some tuna and hot dogs. Even more, she experienced kindness and acceptance from the staff who provided the food.

“There was no judgment,” said Nancy. “I learned I didn’t need to be embarrassed, because we all need help sometimes.”

Your generous, compassionate support is what makes it possible for individuals like Nancy to get the help they need when it matters most.

For Nancy, this was a pivotal moment. Without this support, she might have decided to abandon her studies, to simply give up and go home.

Instead, she went on to become the youngest lawyer in Ontario at the time, and has spent her life helping others, working in low-income communities, advocating for the needs of children in the Toronto area. Nancy has also invited a young family to live with her, providing the kind of support she needed so many years ago.

“It was very life-changing. It makes you realize that anyone can be in a difficult situation, through no fault of their own.”, Nancy said.

For many years, Nancy remembered the kindness she experienced when she received a food hamper, but she couldn’t remember the name of the organization that provided it. This past Christmas, however, it suddenly came back to her, and she was compelled to give back to the organization that had helped her so many years ago.

“I called up and made a donation right away,” said Nancy. “House of Friendship helped me get the life I live today, and I’m grateful for that.



Posted on: September 9th, 2022

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