Juan and Monika’s Story

dirty-hands-one-small-plantWhen your family is hurting, you hurt too. Their pain becomes your pain. That’s how Monika and Juan felt about their daughter, Tonya. When the family arrived in our community, they struggled—working three or more jobs just to make ends meet. With no place to live when they got here, they were in survival mode, focusing on providing the bare necessities for their children. Adjusting and fitting in to an unknown culture meant a new diet rich in fatty and processed foods.

Juan and Monika were no strangers to hard times and sacrificing for their children. But they now found themselves in a situation they didn’t know how to solve. Their change in diet and increased stress caused Tonya to become overweight. This caused medical issues for her and worry for her parents. She was referred to the local clinic to get help. The clinic suggested a nutrition class offered by The Next Door, where the family was taught what healthy foods look like in this strange new country.

They had a glimmer of hope, but the problem persisted. It takes time to develop healthy habits, and access to fruits and veggies is expensive. A small plot of land became available through The Next Door’s Raices garden program. Even though Juan knew how to grow plants, like he did as a young boy with his father in Mexico, he had to learn all over again. Different soil meant different plants.

Cucumbers, zucchini, and watermelon seedlings began to sprout. The family started eating healthy, nutritious foods. Another plot became available, and Juan planted and grew more fresh foods for his family. Their kitchen table began to radiate color; greens, reds, and oranges. Many hungry stomachs ate it all. It became a new way of life for them. Tonya’s weight came under control, she started to prefer veggies and fruit above all other food choices and most importantly her stress level decreased immensely. Now, Tonya teaches others to eat their veggies too!

Sometimes hope comes in strange packages; like dirt, seeds, and hard work. Will you help us plant more seeds of hope that bloom into beautiful blossoms, just like Tonya?

Please donate today and your generous contribution will be matched!