Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dirty Little Secret...Bishops' Storehouse

So in an attempt to share some of the last year of our lives, I will let everyone in on a dirty secret--it's the Bishops' Storehouse. This is an amazing facility where members of the church who are hurting for work and money can get a shopping list from the bishop and go in every 2 weeks and get all the food you need!! For FREE!! Well, by "FREE" I mean it has been paid by member's fast offerings and tithes.
The following principles are used to help measure the success of the storehouse:

  • Patrons and volunteers feel uplifted by their experiences in the storehouse.
  • The storehouse has sufficient volunteer labor and hours of operation to meet patron needs.
  • Inventory is managed to fill bishop's orders and avoid waste.
  • The facility meets safety, sanitation, cleanliness, and maintenance standards.
  • The storehouse's operations adhere to requirements specified in finance, operational, and safety reviews and audits.
  • New missionaries and volunteers are trained in a timely manner.

Since we moved to Provo (and a few times before in the past 5 years) we have been "shopping" at the Bishop's Storehouse. Now I grew up doing this more than a few times in my life and in high school in fact our family worked on the welfare potato farm in Michigan as a way to h elp out for all the help we had recieved. So for me this was only challenging at first---I now have no shame and my point is that on one who utilizes these resources should either. Yet, there does seem to be a hesitancy to disclose the fact that we "shop" here.

What I want to say is that I'm sure there will be many more of us before this economy (and Americans) gets back to working and I do not think we should be at all ashamed. We did nothing wrong. We had "the perfect storm" if you will and we were knocked off our feet in a big way. We lost our infant daughter totally unexpectedly, we lost a great job and eventually we lost our house--all in the span of 3 years. We had no job for 10 months and then we were under-employed (code for under paid) for another 2 years. All this time we are trying to raise good, responsible and caring kids who are not bitter and disappointed by life. Many of us are just rying to get by. My dream is to one day just be able to pay our bills, have 2 cars again, get the kids shoes when they need them and be able to go out to dinner or a movie once in a while. I would love for my kids to have music lessons or be in sports, but all of these things have been gone from our lives for now. But we move on and have faith and trust that the Lord will indeed carry us. Please don't be ashamed of circumstances that you did not create. We are all just doing the best we can...It is not easy to be so honest and I know it is so much harder for Doug. First of all because he has never been homeless and he has always had enough to eat. Second because he "is the man and he is supposed to provide". But I know that just as my Dad did, Doug is a good man, a hard worker and is not responsible for things that are out of our control.

Today we went and low and behold, there was a guy volunteering who Doug knew in high school and had just seen at his reunion. He was mortified--I was like "Can you pass me that Cream of Chicken soup?".
To me, it is what it is.
When you are getting $1400 a month in unemployment and your rent is $1200, well, even I can do that math! So we are getting food. Not gourmet food by any means and we have had to change our expectations about how we get to eat. There certainly are no snacks at the storehouse. Surprisingly (and much to my dismay) not even popcorn!! Wait a minute, doesn't that grow on a tree??! ( a little humor for my Primary friends:0) Though here we can get ice cream.
The chicken is not boneless and skinless breasts and the salsa is not Newman's Own peach. But the Cream of Chicken and Tomato soups are delicious and are in bigger cans than Campbell's, I love to use the brown gravy mix, there is SO much more of it and the Strawberry jam is seedless, just like Smuckers.
Here in Utah you can even get things like fabric! And we have gotten Kian several pairs of socks because his are still in the Orcutt's garage in Indiana. They have sweats and parkas and linens and more things, all brand new.
It strikes me every time how much the Lord loves us. He has provided for us and in such an efficient way!! Our church provides relief and food and clothing and medical supplies for people in trouble all over the world--I am proud of that. We have a system that is totally voluntary and yet we are able to help without regard to race or religion.
I know that this is temporary and I know that when we are making money again we will be even more appreciative of Chocolate chips and Cheetos and we will be more willing to give more generously on that Fast Sunday when the envelope arrives.
I am proud in a good way of how our family has adapted to these difficult circumstances.
We have even gotten a strange joy out of shopping at the D.I. (the Goodwill for my non-member peeps) and are wearing clothes that you would never think had not come from the mall.

I am grateful. I am So glad that we made the decision to move back to Utah even though I know I won't see my Michigan and Indiana people like I did, it just feels so great!
My point is that if you have never had to use these or any other social services you may not understand and I hope you never have to, but if you do own it for what it is...
I know without a doubt that our Father in Heaven loves us and knows us and wants the best for us--even if He doesn't provide Chocolate Chips!


Tara said...

You are awesome, Caren. I always comment on how I LOVE going to the Bishop's storehouse and I HATE dealing with the county family resources office for anything. The bishop's storehouse is totally inspiring. You are such a great example of how Heaven;y Father can strengthen our testimonies through trials- in this and other circumstances. We miss you, but I'm so glad you're happy!

jendoop said...

You sound so well, I'm so glad!

We went to the Bishop's place when we first moved to Colorado. Two house payments will do bad things to your budget. My DH had no clue about being "less fortunate" while I knew the whole deal from my youth. When I got home from my first shopping trip DH asked me how much it cost. It killed me! He had no clue.

Then one of the women from the ward dropped by while I was unloading the van. She didn't recognized the grocery bags and asked where I shopped. I think we both turned red.

It is such a HUGE blessing that our church cares for us in this way, that we can care for each other in this way. I think some of the discomfort comes because we are taught principles of self-reliance so when we can't be it makes us (esp husbands) feel horrid. The experience, esp. for DH, was a learning one. And important to our future service with those that are less-fortunate, we understand the circumstances can be beyond your control.

You can choose to feel helpless or, like you, choose to thank God for providing.