Kathleen is 61 years old, but she feels half her age and is preparing to go into the medical field. After 27 years of working for the United States Postal Office, the Rockport native decided to pull up stakes and move to Austin ten years ago to be closer to her grandkids.
Her time in Austin has been especially difficult after getting a divorce. Though she has worked various jobs through staffing agencies, nothing has been permanent. After her last contract ended, she decided it was time to follow through with her plans to become a medical assistant and follow in her daughter’s footsteps into the medical field.
It would be her third time trying to go back to school. With work always in the way in the past, this time would be different. She was able to get a seasonal part-time job during the day and go to school in the evening.
As her seasonal job came to an end, Kathleen found it harder to make it through the end of the month. Her car payment became too much and she could no longer afford to keep it. Without transportation, getting to school and finding another job was challenging.
“They’ll call you like the day before, contract’s over...I called the people and said, ‘hey look, I can’t afford this car. I could afford it when I bought it three years ago, but I just can’t afford it now’,” Kathleen said.
Her situation worsened when her health started deteriorating. Without medical insurance, she decided to wait it out rather than to rack up medical bills. She relied on over-the-counter medicine and had to miss school for a month as she slowly got better.
For years she had been getting flyers about the Food Bank’s Healthy Options Program for the Elderly (HOPE) onsite at her apartment complex. For the first time, she decided to get help.
“They’ve been putting this calendar on my door for years, but I’ve always worked, so I’ve never attended anything they had here. And then one day, I was unemployed and my pantry was empty,” Kathleen said.
At the distributions, Kathleen was able to take home nearly 20 pounds of non-perishable food which included canned fruits and vegetables, juice, cereal, peanut butter, canned protein, pasta, pasta sauce and more. It was a lot more food than she expected and more than her pantry could actually hold.
“I utilize anything I take,” Kathleen said. “It’s pretty healthy stuff to eat, you know.”
With groceries in hand, she was already planning on making chicken alfredo, chalupas, rice and nachos.
After all the years of working as a letter carrier, she remembers being involved in Stamp Out Hunger, the one-day nationwide food drive organized by letter carriers, taking place this year on May 11th. During the event she donated food herself and was involved in the food drive. She is grateful for the help she receives now that she’s not able to donate.
“I appreciate everything y’all do for us. Thank y’all very much,” she said.