More than 1,100 people sat down to lunch March 2 at The Broadmoor to follow a vision of ending hunger in Colorado Springs.
By the end of Care and Share Food Bank's annual Recipe for Hope, they had donated a record-shattering $302,000 for 2.4 million meals for the hungry in this area.
"Our hearts are full," said a grateful Lynne Telford, president and CEO of the food bank that covers a 52,000-square-mile service area. "There are 161,000 people in Colorado Springs that don't have enough to eat and we're reaching 134,000, so we still have work to do," Telford told the lunch guests. The luncheon will help toward that goal.
Telford shared a quote meaningful to the donors: "Through no fault of my own, I have more than I need. There are a lot of people through no fault of their own, who do not have enough."
Keynote speaker Mary Lasch was the very picture of a food bank donor and volunteer, stylish and well-spoken. However, none of the 1,100 attendees and none of the members of her own family knew her secret story, "that raw part of my life." Silence enveloped the ballroom and tears flowed.
Mary and her brother grew up hungry, the children of "raging alcoholics" who used all the money for their addiction. Mary hid tiny bits of food in her secret place, a closet. In that closet was her father's gun. She knew if the gun was there they were safe. "He wouldn't hurt us if the gun was in the closet," she said.
Once her father brought home bread for himself from work and caught Mary's brother eating some. Their dad dumped gasoline on the child and his bed and set both on fire.
She was 8 when she decided to run away. Sometimes her only food had been snacks a neighbor left in a basket on that neighbor's porch. A teacher brought her secret snacks and her grandmother quietly gave her food.
When she was old enough, Mary created a new life. She joined the military, had a successful career and became a single mom. It was 20 years before she saw her brother again.
She wonders if maybe she could have brought home food from a school pantry, a weekend backpack for the family, like hungry kids today, "maybe things wouldn't have been so bad."
Mary followed a Dr. Phil piece of advice, "If you want different, do different." Today she and her husband are active volunteers at Care and Share Food Bank. "My passion is to feed people, to end hunger," she said.
Zodok Martinez interns with the Atlas Prep Food Pantry where, he said, they help 560 people each month. He and his siblings had been on free and reduced meals and that's why he has a smile on his face when families come to the pantry for food to take home.
Pam Shockley-Zalabak shared that her grandfather ran the family grocery store in Oklahoma but oftentimes during the Depression didn't make any money because he wouldn't collect money for food. Because there was a teacher in the Shockley home, kids would drop by the back door with school questions that were, in fact, a silent wish to be invited to dinner. Today the food bank is Shockley-Zalabak's major philanthropy because she understands.