After 76 years of living in Livingston Parish, Leotha’s favorite thing about it is the river. “The Amite River, where we fish, is the best part. Best fish in the world,” she said. Although the river remains her favorite part of Livingston, it brought some unimagined difficulties in August 2016.
“I’ve been where I’m at since the ‘70s and water has never, never gotten close to me, but this time it was unexpected. I really wasn’t expecting that much water.”
Because Leotha and her husband had seen high water and flooding in the area before, they didn’t expect it to become a problem. “We were feeling very casual about it,” she said. After a full weekend of nonstop rain, Leotha, her husband and her grandson, decided they needed to evacuate although they did not anticipate any flooding to their home.
Unfortunately, the water continued to rise in the area and their home took on water. It was three months before they were able to get back to their property to stay in a FEMA Mobile Housing Unit. Leotha’s church, Second Zion Church, also received water. Months later, the church reopened and became a member agency of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and many people, including Leotha, were able to receive help.
“I’m seeing the light. It’s a slow process, but eventually we’ll get there… I’m very, very appreciative [for the food we receive]. Just very grateful.” In addition to receiving food assistance, Leotha also volunteers at the agency. “You hear a lot of sad stories. Some lost their jobs, some lost cars and don’t have any transportation so having the Food Bank is a blessing to a lot of people. You would be surprised at how many people come through here that need the food.”
“The food comes on a Friday, and my son gets a lot of guys to help unload the truck. Once that’s finished, we help put the food in the boxes,” Leotha said. “Now, a lot of people come. It started off kind of slow, but it’s getting bigger and bigger. More people are coming. The food is good, and a lot of people need it.”
Being able to volunteer and give back has really helped Leotha, “It is a wonderful feeling to help people coming to the agency. Even though I may be in need too, as I don’t have my house, but it’s a joy to help somebody else. It’s just an awesome feeling. A great, great feeling.”
Donations of food, funds and time make all of the Food Bank’s work possible. For Leotha, it makes all the difference. “We certainly thank the people who donate. That is really, really a blessing. A lot of people don’t realize what a blessing it is, but we feel it is a blessing that’s able to help others.”