Picking up her 3-day supply of take-away breakfast and lunch, Dorothy “Dottie” Clark, 61 of Stroudsburg, PA is all smiles.

“I was devastated when Stephanie was mandated to stop serving meals inside the Soup Kitchen. I thought that it would mean I would go hungry,” Dottie said. “But Stephanie let us all know right away that she would be serving take away meals and I started to breathe again.”

“It was one of the hardest days of my life,” said Soup Kitchen Director, Stephanie Lesh. Pausing, she continued, “Feeding people, and providing a safe space for them, twice a day, is what we do. Looking my clients in the eyes and telling them that they couldn’t enter the Soup Kitchen was heart breaking.”

Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have been gratefully distributing a grab-n-go, 3-day supply of take away meals for anyone in need. Included in the bags are items for breakfast and lunch, along with a few refreshments. In April alone, we provided 1,873 grab-n-go meals to our neighbors in need of food in Monroe County, PA.

“Getting these bags helps me supplement with other necessities,” Dottie said. “I make too much money to qualify for food stamps, but don’t make enough to be able to afford an apartment. So, to be able to come to The Salvation Army for help, helps me tremendously.”

Like so many others in our community, Dottie is struggling to get by. Although she is employed and classified as an “essential employee” during this pandemic, she can’t seem to keep her head above water.

“I have health problems but can’t afford the health insurance that my company offers. I’m very grateful to have a job but am constantly scared because I don’t know if the people around me are infected with the virus. I’m homeless and so is my daughter. She can’t find a job right now because nobody is hiring. I know there are so many other people suffering right now, and I have a lot to be grateful for, but some days it’s harder to remind myself of all the blessings I have received when things look so dark.”

Through it all, Dottie’s eyes are twinkling, and her lips are smiling. “I have to stay positive. If I stop and think about the state of the world, I’ll go crazy. Laughing and smiling is the best way to fight the fear that lives inside of me.”

“You guys are awesome,” said Dottie. “I think it’s absolutely wonderful that The Salvation Army is there all the time, no matter what, doing whatever you can to help us all. Giving me food every 3 days helps me tremendously. You show up for us all year round but during this horrible time, it means so much more to me. It’s why I try and give back when I can.”

During kettle season, when she’s not working, Dottie volunteers what little time she has available to ring the bells for The Salvation Army. Rain, snow, wind…it doesn’t matter. Dottie stands proudly by that kettle, wearing the most festive outfits, smiling her 1,000-watt smile at everyone she sees.

“The Salvation Army helps me all year round so I have to give back when I can,” she said proudly. “I do what I can to show you guys my appreciation and to show our community that I am here for them too.”

Our Soup Kitchen serves grab-n-go meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10:00am – 12:00pm. If you, or anyone you know, need help with food, please come, at the appointed times, to our Soup Kitchen at The Salvation Army, 226 Washington Street, East Stroudsburg, PA, 18301 or call 570-421-3050.