Cenizo Journal Fall 2021 - Page 19

Vicki Gibson , Executive Director of the Food Pantry of Jeff Davis County .
big focus on children ; because children are not only the most vulnerable , but they are the neediest in our community . By going to these areas with no wireless internet providers and often either spotty or no cellular service we can offer WiFi for free , while we are there . If someone needs to fill out an online job application , or you need to file for unemployment , or apply for Social Security or Medicare , they can use our mobile internet to fill out applications , and get important documents notarized . They can also check out a computer or a book , apply for SNAP benefits , register to vote , etc ., and of course , like we offer at the food pantry , they can receive food .
“ Because of this setup , with people gathering outside of the van or sitting in their car when the weather gets cold , we can provide these resources all year round and with any shutdowns that might be part of the COVID era .”
When you go to them , it seems like a great opportunity to build trust . They can check out a book , then maybe fill out an application , and then , slowly open up about their other needs .
“ Absolutely . There is so much shame involved . Just the simple fact that you might be in need is somehow shameful . The biggest obstacle I as a food pantry director have to overcome is to get past the shame that people feel in their reluctance to ask for help . People are much more likely to come to a church parking lot or the firehouse or wherever we ’ re parked and just check out a book or DVD and kind of scope it out and see what ' s happening , rather than driving up to the food pantry and parking their car and ringing the doorbell .”
Can you tell me a bit about the founders of Mobile Comunidad and how you all came up with the idea ?
“ Gwin Grimes is the director of the Jeff Davis County Library . Jeanine Bishop is the president of the Friends of the Jeff Davis County Library . We believe that one charitable organization can ’ t bring every service to everybody . We have a weekly lunch meeting at the Old Drug Store Café . We eat and talk for an hour or more about what the problems are , and whether we can we come up with solutions . And people who pass our table , look at us and laugh and make comments that are like , oh , look out ! What are they up to now ?
“ It ' s really nice to be involved with people like that — powerful women who are empowering other women and their community . We ’ re all stirring the pot of our community , making a stew to feed our neighbors .
“ For this project , we started researching other projects and found little seeds of it . Other places have libraries who partner with food pantries . But one of the unique problems in this area is the remoteness , how far apart we live and work from each other . And so that was the hardest piece to put together . And that ' s how we came up with the van idea .”
What ' s important for a traveler / tourist to understand if they see this van ?
“ I hope visitors take back the beauty of this place , but also understand that it ' s not an easy place to live . I ’ d like them to understand that people are fiercely independent , but they ' re also very friendly and kind and compassionate , and willing to take care of their neighbors . I also hope that if they came here , and they got something from this place , that they would maybe consider giving a little something back to our community — maybe drop a little donation in the jar or something . Because every little bit helps . We are such a tiny community . We have to have help from outside of our community .”
What ’ s your ‘ dreamy ’ hope , your ‘ realistic ’ hope , and your ‘ call to the world ?’
“ For my dreamy goal , I go back to Dorothy Day . She said , “ We must always aim for the impossible . Because if we lower our goal , we also diminish our effort .” And so my big dream is a world where everybody has their basic needs met , and people treat each other with kindness and compassion . That ' s what I ' m working for .
“ My realistic goal is that Mobile Comunidad makes a real and measurable difference in the lives of people in our community , that they would be healthier , that they would be happier . My realistic goal is to be able to provide a free school lunch to every kid in our county .
“ My call to the world is to do things big or small , with great love , like Mother Teresa . I really believe that the solution to just about every single problem in the world is love . And love doesn ' t live in isolation , you know . Where you plant that little seed , it ' s gonna blossom .”
Cenizo Fall 2021