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October 18, 2013

Ending Hunger in Palm Beach County

by PBUnitedWay

Last year the Town of Palm Beach United Way assisted the Palm Beach Daily News in collecting over 2,800 pounds of food for their annual food drive.  We also contributed just under $350,000 to food banks and feeding programs throughout Palm Beach County.  Your support of our annual campaign, as well as the Turkey Trot, helps make stories like the one below possible. 

Last September, Bob walked into CROS Ministries’ Lake Worth Food Pantry. His head hung low. His shoulder slumped.

Yolanda, CROS’s North County Pantry Coordinator, asked Bob if he was okay. He put his face in his hands and began to cry.

Bob had run his own business for over a decade. But in 2012, things started going downhill. At his business he had one part-time and four full-time employees working for him, but by late May, Bob had to let all of them go.

Bob’s wife quit her job to help the struggling family business. When school let out for the summer, Bob’s children (ages 9, 12, and 14) joined their parents in keeping the business afloat. They were working seven days a week.

When Bob’s kids returned to school, he realized he could no longer keep the business open — it was too much on the kids. He had applied for government aid and grants, but had heard nothing yet. His wife found a job, and Bob did what he could to pay the bills.

Bob watched as his family quickly went from comfort to poverty. By August, Bob had exhausted his entire savings and retirement trying to pay bills and keep the business open.

So Bob found himself at the food pantry trying to feed his family. All Bob could say was, “I never thought I would be in a place like this.” Yolanda comforted him, “This is just a place to help you until you get back on your feet.”

Bob visited the pantry every two weeks. By November, he seemed visibly sad and depressed. He was afraid that he would lose his home and be forced to move in with family up north. Yolanda made sure that Bob and his family had a turkey and a box with all the fixings, everything they needed for a great Thanksgiving dinner.

December came, but Bob did not appear at the food pantry. Yolanda became concerned. Had her worst fears come true? Had Bob lost his home and moved away? She checked the computer to see if Bob had come in on a day when she had not been working in the pantry. But there was no entry for Bob since November.

In late February, as Yolanda was working in the food pantry, she looked out the window and saw Bob’s truck pulling up.

Yolanda rushed out to meet him.  By the time she reached his truck, his wife and three kids were taking boxes out of the truck. Yolanda asked Bob what it was, and Bob explained that it was food for the pantry. Bob finally got the help he needed to reopen his business and already had two people working for him.

Bob donated eight boxes of food to the pantry that day.

Overjoyed at Bob’s success, Yolanda said jokingly, “Bob, I hope I never see you here again.”

“You will see me here again,” Bob said, his tone serious and sincere. “I didn’t realize that there are a lot of people out there just like me.  So you will see me a few times a year. I had to hit rock bottom to realize that it’s not just poor people that are coming to these places. It’s people like me. I want to make sure the next Bob that comes into this place, that there is food for him also.”

Since 1945, the Town of Palm Beach United Way has invested more than $60 million into Palm Beach County because of generous donors like you. Although some of the needs since 1945 have changed, the Town of Palm Beach United Way is still helping people who struggle with hunger, homelessness, job loss, abuse, mental illness, and more.  To find out more about the Town of Palm Beach United Way visit   On behalf of the community that we serve, THANK YOU for the difference you make. 


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