When Sarah was a child, she and her six siblings grew up in a home with no running water.
She remembers having to use an outhouse if she needed to use the bathroom and, to keep warm, she and her siblings would stoke the coal stove that heated the family’s home.
As an adult, she found herself struggling financially again after the divorce from her first husband.
She was a young mother of three boys and found herself in need of public assistance and unemployment compensation in the late 1980s.
What does food insecurity look like in Lebanon County?
This helped her save for a vehicle - but she had to first obtain a driver’s license.
“I learned to drive when I was 36!” she said. With transportation, she could now work to support her boys.
“It was tough, but I did it,” she said. “I went to work at Burger King. I would get up early and go. My oldest son was 12, so he watched his two younger brothers.”
The money being brought in between assistance, her job and child support just wasn’t enough to cover the basic cost of living, so she turned to Lebanon County Christian Ministries a few times to help provide groceries for her family.
“It helped me spread my food bill,” she said. “I used it just a few times, just when I got down…It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody needs a hand up every now and then.”
Sarah eventually attended Lebanon County Career and Technology Center in the late 1980s and was featured in local news articles for being the only adult in her class and winning a bronze medal in a cooking competition.
She received a degree in culinary arts and became a cook at Cedar Haven, but would go on to switch careers. Sarah went on to make high performance motorcycle tires for Good Year but found her true calling as a certified nursing assistant, and now works at Juniper Village.
She and several residents graciously donated to Lebanon County Christian Ministries recently, something she says she was happy to do decades later to help those who find themselves in the same scenario she was in more than 30 years ago.
Her advice to people struggling is to accept help.
“It’s out there,” she said. “You need to look for it, but don’t be ashamed about it. Just go and get the help because it could end up in more problems if you don’t.”