I met Elmer while visiting a food shelf in Cass County. He was the center of attention as he picked up his monthly NAPS (Senior Commodity) box and received a few other items like bread and produce. You could tell that the staff and volunteers really liked Elmer and looked forward to seeing him. I had a chance to visit with him while conducting a client survey. He was in his mid-80’s, happy and positive, despite major health issues and the struggle to make ends meet.
He left school by the 8th grade and worked as a farm laborer and bus driver all his life. He told me several stories about how he enjoyed his time driving school bus. I’m sure he was every child’s favorite bus driver, so kind and friendly. I bet he bought treats for the kids on the last day of school. I had a bus driver like that once.
Elmer lived on less than $500 a month in social security. He never made much money at the jobs he had over his long working life. Thanks to subsidized housing and food provided by a charity, he was just barely able to survive. Here is an example of our “Greatest Generation” living in poverty despite a lifetime of hard work.
It’s a good thing that we have programs like NAPS Commodities, food shelves and soup kitchens for people like Elmer. But I regret that he has to depend on charity to get enough food to eat. Our “Greatest Generation” deserves better.
Sue Estee, Executive Director