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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Shattered, not broken

Robert Lewis, right, chooses bread at Operation Blessing in Alsip.
Five years ago, Robert Lewis’ life changed in an instant. Driving one afternoon, a car ran a red light and slammed into the side of his vehicle at 70 miles per hour.

“I got t-boned,” he said. “There was nothing I could have done.”

In critical condition, he was rushed to the emergency room. The crash had severely injured his back and left him paralyzed. He would spend a year and a half in the hospital, recovering and learning to walk again.

After Robert was discharged, he could no longer work as a security guard, as he had before the accident. Despite his wife working full-time, medical bills began piling up and his family was struggling to make ends meet.

But, the Operation Blessing food pantry in Alsip, a Greater Chicago Food Depository member agency, has helped his family get back on their feet.

“It helps a lot,” he said. “I get $380 per month in SNAP for my family of five, but that’s not enough to last us all month. This is a good supplement to what I buy at the store.”

While Robert’s life was sidetracked by his accident, he has begun to rebuild. He can now afford his medical bills, because of the food he’s receiving at the pantry. And, he recently stopped using his cane to get around.

“While I was in the hospital, I had one goal: if I could get up and walk to the window in my room, I knew I was ready to leave,” Robert said. “You have to have the willpower to accomplish what you want, and eventually I did. And that’s how I’m living my life.”

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