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Client Spotlight: Brian

Our client, Brian, has not had the easiest life. Growing up in the Bronx, he was raised by two different foster families and today doesn’t have any contact with the brothers and sisters he grew up with. He faced other challenges, too, as a kid and young adult, living with a hearing impairment and learning disabilities. Brian has risen above these challenges, facing each one with his positive attitude, his perseverance and, most of all, his joy in living.

Brian was always an athletic kid and played his way through school, excelling at basketball, track, swimming and flag football. He competed in the local Special Olympics from the time he was six and a half years old through high school, championing at Track and Field.

Because Brian had such a difficult time in his home life, sports were a refuge for him. He lived in his own world and they gave him room to create. To his delight, sports also taught him teamwork, fairness and respect.

When Brian wasn’t competing, practicing or learning his latest sport, he was in the kitchen cooking his latest new recipe or resting with a good book (Animal Farm is among his favorites). Just as with sports, cooking and reading were other escapes for him that brought him peace and happiness.

Eventually, after many difficult years at home and in school, Brian got his GED. His double learning disability and his hearing impairment would not keep him from succeeding.

Once Brian received his GED, he began working at a summer camp, coordinating daily schedules, ordering supplies, housekeeping and more. Brian loved his job and threw his famous energy into it. He worked hard and still had time to hang out with his friends, talk about books, sing songs around the campfire and catch up on life. Of course, he stayed active, running around at the summer camp.

But suddenly and unexpectedly, Brian became deathly ill and his body started failing. Brian didn’t know what was going on.

At his sickest, Brian’s body was crashing. He could barely get through a morning without needing to go back to bed, his body aching with exhaustion. Close to death, his hair was falling out, his skin was purple and he was losing his eyelashes and his eyesight. Brian had no idea what was happening to him, certainly no clue that just a few weeks later he would be diagnosed as HIV positive. Brian has had the strength to deal with a lot of hardship in his life, and this was the worst.

Luckily, Brian began to receive care immediately and became medically stable. Eventually, he was strong enough to be able to move again, albeit slowly, and to get to his appointments and a more normal life.

But despite Brian’s health improvements, he could not maintain his physical strength and wellness. He lacked a key ingredient to good health: nutrition. Local food options are not nutritious enough for his living with HIV, so he has to travel many hours with the help of friends to access nutritious food. Additionally, the foods he needs are too difficult to purchase with the funds he has from food stamps and disability income. Brian was struggling so much to make ends meet, he did not know what to do.

It got so bad for Brian that his stress and anxiety over how to get nutritionally-appropriate food, and enough of it, were through the roof. Brain says “Before I got on the Program, I had a hard time keeping a steady supply of food in my home. I often went without food or ate about one meal a day, due to being on such a tight budget that does not meet my needs well at all.”

He remembers, “I was depressed and so anxious about how I was going to get my next meal, let alone healthy food. It was hard to feel hope in such a desperate situation.”

A friend told him about the Grocery Bag program at God’s Love We Deliver. Brian says “It was a blessing from the very beginning. The Program helps with my income because it is so hard to get certain nutritional foods. My access to fruits and vegetables, which are necessary to keep me healthy and strong, is so much better now. It relieves so much stress and it makes my shopping and my meals much easier.”

Today Brain receives one bag of supplemental groceries each week with an extra bonus during the summer months: produce from our local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Tribeca. With this food and these ingredients, Brian is able to put together much needed nutritional meals at his home and use the cooking skills he has developed over the years. He says, “I love that God’s Love helps me eat good food, gain strength and learn about great nutrition!”

Brian says, “I am healthier than I have been in a long time and it is due to the help I receive from God’s Love.” He is grateful to the generous hands and hearts who help feed him and also the chance to speak with our Registered Dietitians on the phone. Not only do they provide him with nutritional information, but also a listening ear. Being sick and hungry is an urgent crisis and hard for any individual. Brian is grateful that we are there and says “Just the fact that someone at God’s Love hears my story, what I’m going through… I know I am not suffering or going through this alone.”

And with God’s Love We Deliver, he will never have to!

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