White Pony Express Delivers Love and Hope: A Story of 1 Recipient
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
WPE's Dispatcher Dan and White Pony Inn volunteer with a bag full of fresh groceries.
White Pony Express positively impacts 120,000 lives annually in Contra Costa County through our Food Rescue and General Store programs. We depend on our 70+ partner agencies to carry our rescued food, clothing, and goods to our neighbors in need—with love.
On special occasions we hear directly from recipients about how their lives have been impacted by the food, clothing, and goods we provide. A lesser-known program WPE operates is the White Pony Inn. Not a brick-and-mortar inn, this program is an in-house service that assists our most vulnerable neighbors as guests through direct care and service. These are individuals and families who are unable to travel to our partner agencies to access the food and supplies they need to survive and thrive.
“Honestly, White Pony Express saved my life. It's so hard to ask for help when you're struggling so much. I feel cared for and so loved. I don’t feel alone anymore. I still struggle – normally I’m really depressed, but WPE has made it possible to have some days where I think, ‘I can get through this’ and this brings back hope.”
This is the story of one such recipient. I recently had the pleasure of spending time with her and listening to her story. To honor her privacy, I will refer to her as Whitney.
Whitney is a guest of the White Pony Inn. She is a young woman in her thirties who experienced a deeply traumatic event and now struggles with PTSD and other mental health issues. This makes it difficult for Whitney to leave her apartment, let alone support herself. Whitney depends on a small disability stipend, which is enough to cover her rent. Too young for meals-on-wheels and with no reliable transportation to reach food pantries, Whitney was left to forage for food from her apartment complex dumpsters, which left her feeling even more distressed. When the pandemic hit, she no longer felt safe foraging. Although she called many agencies looking for help, she was unable to find it and was losing hope. Whitney says, “I felt so helpless. I was searching and searching. I was desperate for food.”
“It's such a big deal to me that WPE doesn't make you feel guilty, bad, or ashamed when you ask for help. That’s the biggest thing: I don’t want to be a burden to the world. WPE has genuinely made me feel like part of their family. I feel like WPE brought my life back.”
At five foot eight and a hundred pounds, she was starving and had become so weak, it was difficult for her to traverse her small 450 square foot apartment. Out of desperation, she placed a call to White Pony Express. Our dispatcher, Dan, picked up the phone, and when he heard her story and that she was unable to access food, he sprang into action and started delivering a bag of groceries directly to Whitney every Sunday as part of our White Pony Inn program. Initially, Dan would leave the groceries outside her apartment for her to collect, but eventually, trust grew; now she joins him for a weekly neighborhood walk.
“Anything that is brought, I appreciate it. WPE is a gift from above. I was about to give up hope after experiencing rejection after rejection. It was tearing me apart. I gained some weight, just because of White Pony! The food helped me get stronger. I was severely underweight. I have strength now! Physically, emotionally, the food has made such a huge difference. This is gourmet food to me. I’m in shock. Oh my gosh, I cannot believe I’m eating this. It’s like Christmas every Sunday when Dan delivers groceries.”
Through the White Pony Inn program, Whitney receives more than just food. She also receives warm clothing from the General Store, as she does not have the money to heat her apartment. Much of what Dan delivers to Whitney, she shares with a homeless encampment next to her building. Although she has little, she recognizes those who have even less.
“To me, it feels like White Pony Express was sent from Heaven; for me to be on the receiving side of it, and also for me to do what Dan does and help the homeless near my apartment. I wish that the people who were throwing away food and clothing would realize how many people they could be helping. Things you don’t want are treasures for other people. Think before you throw things away, you could be saving a life!”
Written by Lauren Militello, Development and Creative Projects Coordinator at WPE