Anna led a remarkable and accomplished life with a successful career in international development where she was accustomed to living in some of the toughest conditions in the world. In Sudan, she led a peace making project in one of the most dangerous areas in the country. But none of those experiences tested her resilience as much as being faced with poverty in her own life.
Everything changed for Anna and her family when her husband was diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder. Over the course of four years their lifestyle changed dramatically. They both lost their jobs, her husband was sent to prison and Anna was faced with being a single mother to their seven-year-old daughter with no income or supports.
“I used to consider myself a resilient person, but during those dark years my resilience started to falter,” says Anna. “Poverty is exhausting, stressful and isolating. You are constantly making impossible choices between heat, food or electricity.”
A social worker who worked with Anna’s husband realized Anna was struggling and referred her to Eden Food for Change. Eden Food for Change is a community learning kitchen that provides food, cooking classes and employment training for people in crisis and is funded by United Way of Peel Region.
“[It] filled a huge gap. It didn’t solve all of our problems, but it ensured my daughter never went hungry,” she says. “When you donate to United Way, you are helping programs like these help individuals like me break the cycle of poverty, and start a cycle of possibility. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Anna and her family are doing well now. She has found new, meaningful work. Her daughter is thriving and her husband is healthy and at home.