Work site Week – Central PA Food Bank

Day 2 of work site week! This post comes from Bea Troxel, who’s currently working at Central PA Food Bank. Read more below the cut.

Dry Version:

I sign people up for food stamps over the phone. They call in and see if they’re eligible and then if they’re then I help them sign up over the phone. When I’m not on the phone, then I am working on how to tell people about food stamps and reach out to those who do not know that they are eligible.

The Unseen (or what I love about my work):

The parts of my job that I love are where I can connect with people, whether that is over the phone with clients, talking to my boss in the office, or posting flyers around Midtown. Most of all I love the stories that I hear. There was the woman who at the end of the phone call said, “Well, you didn’t ask the most important question of all!” “What’s that?” I asked her. “Are you a Christian?” There was the woman who told me about the prophesy that God gave her to comfort her during her cancer treatment. There was the grandmother who thinks her grandkids should call her “Bionic Woman” because she has had so many surgeries. The older man who told me him and his wife, “were living on the shady side of life now.” If anything this job has shown me the depth of stories within a person and how tangible the needs around me are. I know so much more about how deeply culture had woven stereotypes about food stamps into my brain, and those stereotypes were quickly dispelled as I have talked to all ages and personalities and races over the food stamp helpline. I’ve had to learn how to not take on the stories of others but to listen with empathy and patience and then gently let go after the phone call. The letting go has been the hardest part.

Surprisingly the moments where I’ve softened the most has been in the office with coworkers, hearing their complex and unbelievable stories, seeing how hard they work even when they have so much going on in their families and homes. I feel that I am constantly being shown how to give and be selfless with my time and energy.

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