Deborah Dillard knows what it’s like to need help making ends meet. In the middle of a successful career in the insurance industry, Deborah was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and needed to leave her job. The next four years were financially challenging and despite her best efforts, Deborah fell behind on mortgage payments and lost her home of 32 years.
The subsequent years were a challenge but even then, Deborah worked to help others have the help and support that she felt weren’t available to her when she needed it. She’s worked at Gleaners for the last 13 years, using the skills she developed at Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna to help Gleaners’ operations run smoothly.
Today, Deborah works in the Development department, processing gifts and making sure donation receipts get out to donors quickly. Deborah believes deep down that working together, we can end hunger. Her hope is that more people will realize organizations like Gleaners are available when things get tough and there’s no shame in asking for help. She also wants people who are more fortunate to realize how easy it is for someone to lose that financial stability when illness strikes.
“You’re penalized when you’re sick. My son was born in that house and was in private school. When you have to tell your kids that you can no longer live like this…the pain in their faces hurts. A lot of people don’t know what people are going through or what it’s like until you’re in their shoes.”
Deborah has seen how far Gleaners has come in hunger relief efforts during her 13-year career but still sees the need to reach people who need it most. “I’m glad I’m here. When I see people who need help, I give them my card and tell them to call Gleaners. There’s no reason people should be hungry.” With retirement on the horizon, Deborah knows she will stay on afterwards as a volunteer.
You can read more stories like this and learn more about Gleaners in our Harvest Magazine.