A Toni’s Kitchen Guest Story: “Kerry”

(NOTE: This is part of a series of stories focusing on how we work to improve the lives of our guests at Toni's Kitchen.)

"Kerry" (not her real name) has been a regular guest of Toni's Kitchen since October 2022. Kerry lived by herself locally and experienced unstable housing, unemployment and health issues in recent years. In addition to Choice Pantry, Kerry came to Toni's Kitchen for hot meals. A person of strong faith, Kerry commented on the beauty and serenity of the St. Luke's Episcopal Church sanctuary setting for Choice Pantry. Periodically Kerry brought books to Choice Pantry to share with other guests–one of which was "Little Women," which she believed represented the "sisterhood" at Toni's Kitchen. She also made some clothing donations of items she "no longer needed but hopefully someone else can use."

In addition to providing Kerry with some resume tips after being laid off from Air Canada during Covid, Toni's Kitchen referred her to one of its partner organizations for employment assistance. Kerry also took advantage of obtaining a computer tablet through the Affordable Connectivity Assistance Program offering last year and completed the pre-screening process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), both during Choice Pantry service.

Kerry's last visit to Toni's Kitchen was in late September 2023 and several staff members and volunteers wondered about her whereabouts. Last month, Toni's Kitchen's Guest Support Coordinator was delighted to receive an e-mail from Kerry updating us that she now resides in Johnstown, PA, in a home that she owns. Her Methodist church assisted with her relocation and she is active with the community church there. She feels fortunate that she is now an actual homeowner. Toni's Kitchen's Guest Support Coordinator gave Kerry suggestions for three social service organizations in Johnstown to consider that might be able to assist her with getting her utilities turned on and getting fully situated.

Kerry still has more work to do for her daily life to fully stabilize. But she is safe and cheered by the progress she has made. Kerry promised to remain in touch and expressed her appreciation for Toni's Kitchen: "One life changed forever by your friends and your refusal to marginalize the downtrodden."