My name is Loretta Weaver, and I want to share my pride in Project SHARE, because they have been an incredible resource in my life. I am a Mother of two young girls, and had been an Educational Assistant for 10 years with District School Board of Niagara. I was always helping to support Project SHARE through school and community initiatives, and never knew much about Project SHARE except they give food to those in need. I left my job two years ago to begin a new career as a Teacher. Occasional teaching and managing a house, bills, and expenses is extremely difficult. But I am a hard worker, so I found a second and third job and did my best to keep things to manage my life. We have a roof over our head and cars in our driveway. I am educated and strong and intelligent. I thought I could do this on my own. More and more I had to say no to activities and opportunities for my children and for myself because it was not in our budget. Despite how hard I was working, I was dipping into huge debt and overdraft and I was running out of options. I needed help, and it was extremely difficult for me to admit that, and go get it. I felt ashamed, guilty, and embarrassed.

The people at Project SHARE are amazing. They are non-judgemental and supportive. Being in the food room and seeing the true diversity of people receiving support opened up my eyes. There are single parents, college students, immigrants, elderly, and people like me doing their best but struggling so much it hurts. I didn’t think I could give my girls Christmas last year, Project SHARE made it possible. I couldn’t get my kids to the dentist because I had no benefits, Project SHARE made it possible. Being connected to Project SHARE gave me the opportunity to learn about many more amazing supports within our community, and how I can access them to receive recreational programming, clothing and counselling. I am so grateful for how much they have impacted my life; I can’t not speak about how meaningful this program is without shedding a tear.

I am writing this to help stop the stigma. To educate others about the purpose and meaning of receiving support, and to share acceptance and understanding for those from diverse experiences and backgrounds who receive the care and kindness that Project SHAREs daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. It is my hope that by sharing my story that I am opening the door to awareness; teaching my children and students that everyone needs help and that there is equal joy and love in giving as there is in receiving it. I know that one day I will not be struggling and when that day comes I will be pouring my heart and soul through donations of food, clothing, and toiletries. However, right now the best thing I can do to give back is to give my time to volunteer and give my voice to advocate about how far reaching this program is and how much everyone’s help is needed not only through donations but through ongoing acceptance and appreciation. It is with my deepest gratitude that I thank our community for supporting Project SHARE, and it is my hope that kindness will continue to grow.