Every week, the Neighborhood Center of South Lake serves over 400 families, each with a unique story and circumstances. Sara, wife, and mother of 3 beautiful children, shares her story of uncertainty and relief as she discovers the Center and that there is a wonderful place where families become family and dignity and respect matter.
The oldest, Laurie, is 7 years old and described as a leader in training. “She’s going to be the CEO of a company someday,” Sara shares. She loves animals and is responsible for caring for the family’s two dogs, one cat, and four chickens – a chore she takes very seriously. She also loves to read and always goes straight to the little library that the Center has for children to select and keep one or two books while they wait for their food cart.
Thomas is the “mechanical dude.” He is always taking things apart and putting them back together. Because he loves off-road trucks, he regularly watches “everything truck” on YouTube with his Dad. Often, he can be found quietly observing processes for just about anything and then asking many questions that are truly beyond his years (he is just 4 years old).
The youngest, Christopher (almost 3 years old), loves nature and helped plant the family garden. He is fascinated by insects and their little world, but he also loves helping Laurie care for the animals. Like many “youngest” in families, he is fearless and enjoys following his siblings everywhere.
Sara and her husband also welcomed two of their nephews during the summer to stay in their home. Ethan (5 years old) is a sweet little boy that is often thought of as their fourth child. His parents are separated, unfortunately, but he brings his little light wherever he goes. Angelo has just moved to Florida from Indiana and is staying with Sara while his Dad tries to find a place for them to live – a task that is increasingly difficult for so many families because of the rising cost of rent and other expenses.
For 10 years, Sara proudly served her community as a paramedic. However, her pregnancy with Thomas was considered high-risk and she opted to take advantage of the 12 weeks of leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). When her leave could not be extended, she opted to be terminated with the promise of rehire to care for her newborn son.
When COVID began in 2020, she was pregnant with her youngest and taking care of Laurie and Thomas full-time. It became very difficult to navigate the family’s budget to meet their daily living expenses. After Christopher was born, she learned about The Neighborhood Center of South Lake. Sara recalls, “I felt so weird about calling the Pantry for help – I had never had to do that before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But everyone was so gracious and so kind. It was like being with family.” Sara’s children immediately made friends with the volunteers and staff – one of their favorites is the “lollipop lady,” also known as Dina Sweatt, a Center Volunteer and Board member.
Today, Sara is caring for her children full-time and hopes someday to explore her passion for teaching. She knows that after witnessing so much trauma in her career as a paramedic, her days in the ambulance are done. In addition to nurturing her own family, she assists foster families within her Church and attributes this to the ability parents find within themselves to not only love their own children but to extend help and love to our neighbors as well.
Like every family that comes through our doors, Sara’s family is our family. Not only are they our neighbors, but they are also your neighbors. Each month the Center welcomes nearly 100 new families, just like Sara’s and we need our community’s support to help our neighbors in need. Please help us continue to support these families by visiting https://www.tncsl.org/ways-to-help/donorsnap/. Your gift gives the promise of food security – a gift that is truly priceless.
Thank you for your support.