From Food-Insecure Single Mom to Model Volunteer: Stephanie Forehand
Why volunteer? While this might seem like a simple question, we’ve found that when we ask our volunteers about their reasons for supporting our mission, there is a wide range of responses.
Some believe food is a basic human right. Others volunteer simply because they want to improve their community. Still others see it as an opportunity to give back to a non-profit that has helped a family member, friend, or even themselves.
Stephanie Forehand, who has been a regular MFB volunteer in Baltimore over the last five years, experienced food-insecurity first-hand. She overcame adversity, and now is leading by example – proving that all actions, no matter how big or small, can have an impact on the lives of others.
“Nothing is guaranteed in life and anything could happen to you,” she said. “You could lose your job tomorrow and you still have a family to support, so it’s important not judge, or think you’re better than then next person.”
Forehand recalls the challenging early days of her marriage, living in rural Texas, thousands of miles away from her home state of Maryland. She was living with a husband that hopped from job to job, and ultimately became a single mother. All of the responsibility for caring for her son, paying the rent and the bills, suddenly fell on her shoulders.
“I was really concerned about where our next meal would come from. We were living off public assistance, and were really close to living on the street. I was more concerned about my son not having the right foods to eat, and that he would feel hunger pains. I did not want to send my child to bed hungry.”
The responsibilities overwhelmed Forehand, but thankfully, her parents stepped in to sort things out. They helped her get a divorce from her husband and assist with her and her son’s move back to Carroll County.
Forehand took her second chance and ran with it. She found a full-time job with the Maryland Department of Human Services, working on disability cases – a position she still has today. While she enjoyed being back in a familiar environment, Forehand was looking for ways to enrich her life outside of her day job.
“I wanted to do something else besides spend my weekends doing mundane things running errands and doing chores,” noted Forehand. “I found the Central Maryland chapter of MeetUp, and they had all these different activities.”
At the time, Forehand couldn’t have foreseen that one of those activities would be the start of a lifelong endeavor – volunteering. Her first volunteer shift in the Baltimore warehouse was in July 2014, and it was a great fit for both parties.
“I like the camaraderie of the group. We get together after volunteer shifts for lunch – it’s a nice group, and that’s why I keep coming back,” she said. “I also feel like no job is too small – whether you’re taping cardboard boxes together, working at the conveyor belt filling boxes, or chopping up potatoes in the kitchen – you’re contributing.”
Since that initial shift, Forehand has volunteered more than 75 hours of her time at the food bank, helping with just about every task possible to contribute to the MFB’s mission of helping end hunger for more Marylanders.
“Stephanie is just a delight, a true model volunteer,” said MFB Volunteer Coordinator Paul Lynner. “She shows up for every shift, on time, with a smile on her face, and ready to do whatever we need help with on that day.”
From Forehand’s perspective, everyone has something to give.
“Since I don’t have any money to donate, the best thing I can do is donate my time. In life, we all have something that we can spare. I decided to spare my time and give back, because I know what it was like to be hungry.”
Get updates on our progress in the fight against hunger
Want to see how your involvement directly impacts the well-being of your neighbors in need? Get the latest news sent to your inbox.