It wasn’t that long ago that Tania Cole was literally sitting on the streets of Western Avenue and West 70th Street in South Los Angeles. She had reached the end of her drug addiction – she was tired, unshowered, hungry, and looking for a sign to change.
Then one day, a man came out of Ephesus Church, one of the nearly 700 partner agencies at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. He crossed the street, walked over, sat down right next to her, and offered her a bottle of water. It was then that for the first time in a long time, Cole felt like someone cared. This was her sign.
After initial hesitation, and sneaking in and out of the Church, Cole understood the signs and became a member. It was then that her church family inspired her to go to rehab, go back to school, graduate and become an active member in her community. While she was getting cleaned up and working on herself, Cole was benefitting from the generosity of donations to the Food Bank, receiving the food that Ephesus Church provided to its community.
Ten years later, Cole has a steady job, is a continued member of Ephesus Church, has a roof over her head, and fits her work schedule to take time to give back and volunteer at the Church.
“I break my time up from my regular job; I give my time, my love, because I love what I’m doing, because I was loved, and I am loved,” Cole said.
“I’ve worked in several churches, but this is the most fulfilling for me,” she said, holding back tears. “When I come through these doors and see the same people that I used to be, and they don’t have a friend, I remember what friendship is.”
Cole’s commute time to Ephesus has also changed. Now living in Compton, she doesn’t mind taking two buses and two trains to get to the Church three times a week, especially for the weekly food distributions, but now, to help those that are in the same condition she was in when she was living on the streets of Los Angeles.
While many refuse to come near a homeless person, Cole embraces them, offers them a hot shower in the Church’s facilities, a clean set of clothes, a plate of food, and the care and love that she once needed and received from her peers.
“There were times when the food wasn’t there, and people were still coming in,” Cole recalls. “Some didn’t want to hear a sermon, they just wanted to eat. God said, you have $10 in your pocket, go across the street and get a carton of oatmeal, a loaf of bread, and a stick of butter. I go in the kitchen and I put it together. I was amazed to see that someone that we look down on because they’re dirty, or they’re not clean enough to do this – washed their hands, just like me, and helped me make this food so they could all eat.”
It’s thanks to generous support to the Food Bank that partner agencies like Ephesus Church can help people in their community like Tania. If you are in a position to do so, please donate.