June 11, 2009
The senior center is packed with people, and 61-year-old Shirley is sitting at a big round table, smiling at those who pass her by. Shirley is a grandmother, and has struggled with homelessness and skin cancer. She says she finds it difficult to get through some days—especially after bouts of chemotherapy, and having no place to sleep on occasion—but she finds a way to keep going.
Still holding that smile, Shirley says nutrition is important to her, and she visits this Seattle-area senior center, a Food Lifeline agency, to get to get a warm meal and a comfortable place to rest. “To me a healthy diet is what counts…[like getting] meat, the vegetables and the starch. That is what is important to me,” she says. I always used to make sure my kids had a balanced meal, but now I need to make sure I get that balanced meal as well.
Shirley worked as a secretary for 19 years, and started doing cleaning work shortly thereafter, but had to leave her job when she was diagnosed with cancer. Of the nearly 600,000 people Food Lifeline serves each year, 13% are seniors. As one of those seniors, Shirley allowed us to get a glimpse into her life and hear her story. She is working on finding a permanent place to live, and if she finds herself with no place to go she depends on local shelters, food banks and meal programs in the area. “Right now I just want to sleep, [but] I keep going. I am not going to roll over,” she says. Help support local seniors like Shirley by making a donation to Food Lifeline using our secure online donation page.