Caregiving comes naturally for Beth and Barb. It started when the twin sisters were just seven years old and their mother delivered another set of twins, this time boys, and the expanded family needed helping hands.
Now 63 years old, caregiving has been the theme of their lives. But so, too, has struggle. Both worked, Beth as a sign language interpreter and Barb as a photographer, but their paychecks couldn’t keep up with expenses or with the challenges life threw at their family.
Beth and Barb helped their mom when she was ill, keeping her healthy and maintaining her home. They helped their youngest brother when he was being treated for leukemia and recovering from a bone marrow transplant. They run errands for their homebound neighbors. And they’ve helped each other through illness and recovery. They’ve made it through hacked accounts and crashed credit scores. Through living with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Through times of homelessness after their mom died and they lost the house.
Today, both receive disability and Beth works part time at a group home. After a life of caregiving and struggling, it’s still impossible to make ends meet without a helping hand.
“We have been through so much financial disarray. We’ve been pretty broke. Rent takes Barb’s whole check.” It’s not just rent, though. The cost of groceries is still up nearly 7 percent from a year ago, and expected to grow at historically high rates according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
They learned about the Open Cupboard and its Today’s Harvest free, fresh market a few years ago when a neighbor told them about it. Devout Christians, Beth and Barb had faith that God would take care of them, oftentimes through the work of others, like Open Cupboard. Still, while caregiving is second nature for Beth and Barb, care-receiving doesn’t come as naturally.
“It’s humbling to come in here. But you all don’t shame people. Everyone should know that there’s a place out here that still cares for the people who need help.”
The sisters love the ready-to-eat options, which are easier to prepare given their arthritis and other physical limitations. They also appreciate the ability to select exactly what they need and how much, particularly because of their restrictive diets. Like most Open Cupboard and Today’s Harvest shoppers, Barb and Beth hate to accept more food than they need or to see food go to waste. They’ll often share excess food with their neighbors, friends or at the group home where Beth works. What they love most might be the friendships they’ve forged with staff and volunteers.
“We would be totally lost without you.”