Ruby Smith was formerly a FSA group member at Walton Reserve Apartment Homes. Before she earned a promotion and “graduated” from the program, she made too much money to receive welfare benefits, but not enough money to be able to pay for all the things that were need to live a healthy, debt-free life. She especially benefited from the nutritional speakers who addressed specific dietary needs.
“It was wonderful. We all had a job. We worked together as a team. We held each other accountable and our voices really counted. We would share our ups and downs and talk about other concerns we were having. It became a safe place for us to share our thoughts and feelings as we encouraged each other.” Ruby sums the FANN program very succinctly, “Being a part of the program was like going home to your pantry – food, family and love!”
Jean Aaron is a graduate of the FSA program at Walton Reserve. She is now a program coordinator for Food Security for America. “I didn’t want to take the easy way out and apply for food stamps or go to food pantries. Joining the FSA Group was the missing piece that let me provide for my daughter and special needs grandson. All the members take ownership of the program. We’re like a Sunday School class.”
Juanita Davenport is another “graduate” of the FSA program at Walton Reserve. She and her daughter were grateful to have fresh produce and healthy options since both were hard to get and very expensive. Juanita is now a homeowner and her daughter is a college graduate with a fulfilling job.
“I learned so much from being a member of the program. We created our own steering committee and we voted on our rules. Everyone had a voice and we all wanted to do our best. With the feeling of ownership, we had pride in what we were accomplishing.”
Kalice Jefferson joined her FSA group at Walton Ridenour while pregnant with her fourth child and facing an unpaid maternity leave. The FSA program allowed Kalice to feed her family fresh, nutritious foods even when her income had stopped and provided her with the tools and resources to begin a healthier lifestyle. Since becoming a member, Kalice began walking for exercise, and she has introduced fruits and vegetables into her family’s diet while also reducing their intake of processed foods.
But, the FSA program has been about much more than just food to Kalice. Before joining the program, Kalice says she “was at rock bottom,” and she feels thankful for her supportive FANN community that helped her to get back to normal after experiencing post-partum depression. “It feels like a family, especially when you don’t have family in town,” Kalice explains. “I’ve never seen a program like this anywhere else. It has been a blessing to me and my family.” Kalice has since returned to work, and she just received a promotion.
Kandia and Craig Randolph and their four children learned about the FANN program through Walton Village’s leasing office when they moved from New York. Kandia is “beyond grateful” for the FANN program describes it as a “ridiculous blessing because it not only allows her to provide for her children, but is also an opportunity to volunteer and be part of a supportive community.” She enjoys sharing her gifts and talents, and says it feels good to be needed. Her family has made friends with other FANN members. She adds, “It is a blessing to interact with others, share prayer concerns, and grow into a better Christian.”
Paulina Agbaje, a member of our Walton Reserve FSA group, was recently hired by Prime Power Services, a firm providing emergency power generation to hospitals, data centers, and other facilities. Paulina found her position from an announcement that was made in a group meeting. The strong sense of mutual support in the group creates opportunities for personal and professional growth.