Donna’s Story | Thanksgiving Won’t Be The Same

November 4, 2019

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to spend time with our family and friends and share a wonderful meal filled with gratitude. For Donna, this also when she looks forward to making a delicious feast for her family at her Visitacion Valley home. But this year, Donna didn’t think a celebratory Thanksgiving was looking promising due to a series of heartbreaking events that also left Donna in financial straits.


Last winter, Donna’s eldest son died in a tragic accident, followed four months later by the death of her husband of 53 years, after a long illness. Donna is also not well and struggles with a rare lung disease, all while caring for her youngest son, Maurice. Maurice is on permanent disability resulting from a traumatic brain injury caused by a car crash last year. “It’s been a difficult year, for sure,” she says, fighting back her tears.

Although Donna is coping with these family tragedies and trying to squeak by on her husband’s pension, she’s experiencing the financial pain of San Francisco’s high and rising cost of living. This has made meeting daily needs much harder, and providing a nurturing Thanksgiving meal harder yet.


A bright spot in her week is her Friday visit to get fresh fruits and vegetables at the food pantry at the Visitacion Valley Family Center on Raymond Street. “I really can do a lot with carrots, potatoes, and onions… sometimes I’ll stir fry them, sometimes I bake them,” she says. “The nice part is knowing that the veggies and fruits help keep me and Maurice happy while we deal with our medical issues.”

Her visit also provides an opportunity to chat with the friendly and empathetic volunteers who lend a listening ear and warm support. This year Donna will be able to get some of the food she needs to cook a holiday meal and have a quiet Thanksgiving with her son. Despite the upheaval in her life, she’s very thankful for the food on her table and the loving respite that the day will bring.

To support our pantries and make sure that no one has to go hungry this thanksgiving, please donate here.