Finding Purpose, Community, & a Fresh Start
Wes moved to Arizona in 2017 for a fresh start. His car broke down right outside of Flagstaff and he didn’t have enough money to fix it up, so he was stuck. He struggled to find work, so found himself homeless for the first time in his life. Spending his nights at the Flagstaff Shelter Services and his days working odd jobs to make ends meet, sometimes resorting to asking for money on street corners, Wes needed a change.
Wes found the Flagstaff Family Food Center and started volunteering daily at the Kitchen, handing out sandwiches and snacks through the Backdoor Lunch Program. He soon became a valued volunteer and took on the role of “Parking Lot Attendant,” helping to make the Kitchen a safe place for families to come together for a meal.
When Wes found the Flagstaff Family Food Center, he found a productive way to spend his time and gain experience for his resume – but, more importantly, he found a community.
“The people that come here to eat, when they get to the lot, automatically they know… it’s like you’re going to your grandma’s house,” Wes says. “You’re going to have a seat, you’re going to have a good meal, you’re going to have great conversations. And you can eat as much as you want. All we ask is that you only take what you need because there’s someone behind you in line. This is unique, it’s really unique. Here, no one goes away hungry.”
In October, Wes got a call that he was approved to move into an apartment: the first home he had to call his own in over two years.
“It’s easy to take but I think it’s even easier to give back. And that’s what my whole mission was: to come here, volunteer, and to give back. And it just seems like everything now is having a domino effect, in a positive way. And I believe that if I would have done anything else with my time – anything else – I wouldn’t be in this position now. And it started here.”