Brooke had been living and working in New Hampshire for about five years when she had her first encounter with the Upper Valley Haven. She had recently freed herself from an abusive relationship. Then suddenly, due to an injury, she found herself out of work. Under different circumstances, she probably would have taken her misfortune and done with it what she had always done; she would have gotten high and disappeared into oblivion. But this time things were different. She had been clean for six years, and was now responsible for a child.

“Walking through the door for the first time was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Self-sufficiency meant a lot to me, and acknowledging that I needed help felt like a huge concession,” she says. “I didn’t want my daughter to know that I couldn’t afford to buy the food she ate and the clothes she wore, so I lied and told her that I went shopping.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Brooke to realize that there was no shame in coming to the Haven. She was touched by the kindness of everyone she interacted with. “I didn’t expect anyone to care who I was or what my situation was, but here I found that the people I spoke to actually heard what I had to say. That was totally new to me, and I was so grateful because it made me feel like I was not alone. Now I look forward to coming to the Food Shelf, and I bring my daughter with me to look in the Clothing Room.”

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