Heidi is a Dakota County resident who has been using The Open Door’s programs for about eight years, and her positive attitude and cheerful smile brightens up everyone’s day here at TOD. As a mother of seven children ranging in ages from three to sixteen years old, she is an example of strength, kindness, and patience for everyone.
One of Heidi’s favorite parts of The Open Door is the environment she encounters every time she comes to the pantry. According to her, the community is almost just as important as the food and services themselves.
“I get to pick out wonderful, fresh, healthy foods. But more than that, the people are friendly, kind, smiling. . .It just feels really respectful, and it’s a positive environment,” Heidi said.
The only thing Heidi said she would change about The Open Door is that she wants to make the volunteers’ jobs a little bit easier by including a ramp at the pantry where the non-perishable food is unloaded. Heidi noticed that some of the volunteers would struggle to move a heavy cart full of food to the pantry and wishes there could be there way to alleviate this problem for them.
According to Heidi, using The Open Door’s services has helped her and her family climb out of debt because she was able to reduce the amount of money she was spending on food.
“We are still going, but we’re so much closer because our grocery bill has been systematically reduced,” Heidi said. “Being able to get all of our fresh food as well as nonperishables, especially with teenage boys that are physically active, it’s amazing how fast people go through the food. . .our whole family has just been so blessed.”
The level of care members of TOD staff and volunteers have for Heidi and her children on a personal level has also meant a lot to her over the years. She appreciates how people at the pantry greet her by name as soon as she walks through the door, and they are always sure to ask her how she’s doing and what she needs for the day.
One of Heidi’s favorite memories at the pantry is when a volunteer gave her some of the classic children’s literature books that he used to read to his children and asked if she wanted them to read to her own children.
“It meant so much to me that he even thought of our family as he thought of this treasure he wanted to pass on,” Heidi said.
Heidi also loves how people at the pantry always go out of their way to make her children happy and give them small gifts like stuffed animals or toys.
“People will go out of their way to engage with the kids in such a fun, playful way, and that has just been a delight,” Heidi said.
Heidi’s experience with The Open Door has gone beyond just receiving high quality food – she is grateful that she is supported every step of the way by other members of her community.
“The Open Door is a huge blessing in all of our lives,” Heidi said.