The saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” could not ring more true for Clissita, a 53-year-old resident of Newark and grand mom to six boys. All of the boys live with her.
Clissita has been raising the boys for close to 10 years now. She once owned her own home, but couldn’t continue to maintain it so she moved into public housing.
“I miss owning my own home, but I had to make the best choice for them [grandsons],” she explains.
Despite needing assistance herself, Clissita is committed to giving back to her community. She volunteered for the first time at the Newark Area Welfare Committee’s food pantry within the Newark United Methodist Church on Main Street last month. She plans to return each month so she can help others.
“Doing something for someone else makes me feel better,” she says.
On this particular day of volunteering, Clissita brought four of her six grandsons. They endearingly refer to her as “granny” and immediately upon meeting them, you can tell their bond is strong.
The boys attend school at a local charter school and Clissita is thankful that free meals are provided at school and that the Food Bank’s Backpack Program is available for the weekends.
Clissita admits that she was hesitant to reach out for help at first. “I was very prideful in the beginning,” she says. “I didn’t want to ask, but when the kids need food you swallow your pride.”
Like many people who fall on hard times, Clissita never imagined being in her current situation.
A back injury led to frequent doctor’s appointments and missed time at work. In addition to her own appointments, she also had to take off to take her grandsons to appointments as well. As a result of the missed time at work, she was forced to choose between work and family matters.
She chose her family.
“I was so depressed,” she explains. “I enjoyed my job.”
In addition to the financial hardship that comes from raising six young boys and suffering from an injury, Clissita was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught in the early stages.
Cancer treatments ended in December, and she hopes to be able to get back on track.
Despite set backs, Clissita remains optimistic and strong in her faith.”I try to do what I can, I trust God; he always provides, but it’s difficult,” she says.