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Paying It Forward

Photo - Yvonne Cavalli

In 2009, Yvonne Cavalli went from being employed as an Arby’s Restaurant manager to using a wheelchair and oxygen mask as a result of a stroke.

“I honestly believed that I was going to die,” Yvonne recalled.

She was able to receive benefits from her employer’s long-term disability plan but did not qualify for retirement. With a greatly restricted income, Yvonne had to sell her home and move into a mobile park.

Still, monthly bills did not leave much room in the budget for groceries. Luckily, she found a Gleaners pantry nearby to help her meet this basic need.

Yvonne was extremely grateful for the emergency food supply and felt compelled to give back; she began volunteering part-time at Gleaners in Livingston. As the number of hours she spent volunteering climbed, her dependency on the oxygen decreased significantly. She knew then that she would not give up in life and her recovery led to a mission to feed others.

In March 2011, Cavalli joined hands with St. George Evangelical Lutheran Church to open a food pantry. During the first week, the pantry served 17 families. By year’s end, it was serving 87 families a week and had distributed a total of 34,000 pounds of food. Yvonne now hopes to add a soup kitchen at the church.

“My ultimate goal is to serve one million people before I die,” she asserted.

Having gone through a very challenging time, Yvonne found that food security was essential.

“The last thing that should come as an issue is food. There are many places out there you can get help.”