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After years of struggling to find her voice, Linda Holly is ready to use it to help others.

The Food Bank’s Community Advocates Training program is giving her that opportunity.

“I’m excited to be an advocate for those who don’t know and those who need,” she says. “I was pleased that I was asked to take part. We’re all different and everyone has such interesting stories.”

Linda lives in Pine City and is still recovering from a series of challenging events. A back injury suffered on the job in 2002 ended her nursing career and shook her confidence, making it difficult to accept help even when offered.

“When I was a nurse I was laid off three times in five years, so I had to get help then,” she says. “I had to get food stamps and Medicaid. That was hard.”

Despite having a need, Linda was at times reluctant and at others flat out refused available help.

“I twice had written letters to Social Services asking them to take me off food stamps because I was only getting a hundred dollars or something like that,” she says. “I thought there was probably someone who needed it more than me.

“I felt like I was stealing. It felt dirty and wrong, and the judgment, I hate.”

The long road back included a 10-year wait to get Social Security benefits, which took its toll on Linda emotionally.

Now, armed with the confidence and knowledge from the Community Advocates Training, Linda finds herself motivated to help others, and herself.

You can read this and other stories from around the Southern Tier in our quarterly newsletter, The Harvester, on our website.

If you or someone you know needs assistance in finding food, you can find resources on our FIND FOOD page.