Meet Pamela Norwood.
Originally from Louisiana, Pamela faced a difficult childhood, suffering from poliomyelitis, or polio, an illness that she was told would cause her to lose the ability to have children of her own. She eventually recovered, got older, fell in love, and married and had 5 children with the love of her life, something she wanted, but never thought was possible. Pamela was happy, she was healthy, and thought she had her life figured out.
In her 40’s she got sick again. Pamela was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, an illness that attacks polio survivor’s years after their recovery. The illness causes severe muscle weakness and pain, exhaustion, breathing problems, fatigue, and much more. Pamela was taking medication after medication to combat the pain, but it was not enough.
Her symptoms got worse, and her medicine seemed to dwindle down to nothing. Things got harder and Pamela’s marriage began to suffer after it was discovered that her husband had been sneaking her pills and was now addicted.
In her 50’s, Pamela lost everything. Her retirement plan, her marriage, and her life had taken a turn for the worst. She was homeless.
“You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. You could lose everything,” said Pamela.
For a year and a half Pamela had nowhere to go.
Eventually, things started to get better. She found a low-income housing facility that she could live in, and eventually began to collect social security. Although she now had somewhere to sleep and a little bit of money, it was not enough to cover the cost of food.
Pamela began to attend local food distributions, but was disheartened at the amount of old, rotten, food that was given to her. She would come home, look at the food she had received, and cry because she felt like no one understood what it was like for someone going through her situation-- sick and hungry.
7 years later, Pamela was able to afford a bigger place within a low-income housing facility. Her pain was prominent and she could no longer walk or stand for very long, but she felt like things were finally beginning to look up.
In April 2018, Pamela was introduced to the Touch Ministries Food Distribution from a friend, which she calls “a blessing”. At the Touch Ministries Food Distribution in Ontario, CA, food recipients can walk through a large warehouse where the Touch Ministries church members, volunteers, and staff are eager to greet you with a selection of foods ranging from healthy, fresh goods to nonperishable food for those that need to store items long term.
At the distribution, Pamela was able to grab a variety of fresh produce, meats, frozen foods, and snacks. She was so thankful for the amount of support given at the food distribution and was grateful for the kind people that welcomed her to her first visit.
Pamela filled her cart with food, and even grabbed some sweets for the many children that live in her housing complex.
“If I would have gone to distributions like this years ago, my life would have been completely different right now,” she said.
Stories like Pamela’s are all too common, but programs like this are “a blessing” to those that need it. Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino strives to grow and continue to be a source of food to over 450 charity partners in the IE. Become a monthly donor and help us fulfill our mission and provide to those that need it at churches, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. Together, we can continue to feed Pamela, and the many others having to choose between a meal and their health.