When asked about meeting to talk about his experiences working with SNAP, Larry admits, “I’ll tell you how it is. You might not always like what you hear, but I will tell it to you straight.” Larry prides himself on his honesty and forthrightness. So when he thinks back on the times he has called on SNAP for support, he thoughtfully says, “I have always been treated with respect. People look me in the eye when they talk to me, and I respect that.” It is obvious that he values SNAP as part of the community fabric that has helped him. After a life decision found Larry throwing a dart at a map of the Western United States to decide where to move, Larry headed for Portland and landed in Tacoma for a while, before settling in Spokane. Now Spokane is his home, and he will be here forever. He contends that it is the people that keep him here – he finds them kind, respectful, and honest. Thanks to the kindness he has been shown, he insists that he “pays it forward” any time he is able.
“The idea that someone would
help out a complete stranger that
way, that was really something.”
Larry first encountered SNAP in 2012 when his mother suffered a stroke, and he was unable to get across the county to get to her. While no longer available, at the time, traveler’s aid funding meant SNAP was able to provide him with financial support to travel to Ohio to help his ailing mother, for which he was incredibly grateful. The idea that an agency would help a stranger in this way was amazing to him.
More recently, Larry has turned to SNAP to help with his energy bills. Living as a retiree on a fixed income, the additional financial support during the winter months helps Larry stay on top of his bills while ensuring he stays warm. Admittedly, while he loves the seasons that Spokane offers, winter is one that he has to grin and bear. Luckily, Larry also has a special hobby that keeps him both active and warm – he crochets.
A sharp student growing up, Larry remembers finishing a test 30 minutes early as a child. Not wanting him to cause a disturbance, his teacher called him down front, and to keep him busy, she showed him the basics of crochet. Larry taught himself from there, and shelved the talent for many years. Fast forward to life in wintry Spokane, when Larry was commuting by foot from his East Central home to work at EZ-Loader. He broke out his old hobby and he set to work crocheting hats and scarves to keep warm. The target of a few jokes from his co-workers, the tides turned when their wives and girlfriends started asking him for some of his handiwork!
Today, Larry continues to crochet, and volunteers his skills and time by making hats and blankets for Project Warm-up, a program run by YMCA. This program provides over 50 agencies that serve low-income residents, including SNAP, with handmade hats, blankets, scarves and more. Project Warm-up started in 1991 and since its inception has provided more than 179.000 items to those in need. Last year they had 189 volunteers ranging from 9 years old to 101 helping craft items. Larry has been volunteering for nearly five years, and loves that he is given yarn to be able to craft.
“As long as people keep treating
me kindly, I will keep paying it
One day on the bus, Larry saw a family climb aboard, and the mother and three small children were all wearing hats that he had made. Part of him wanted to speak up and let them know, but a larger part wanted to keep that information to himself, knowing that his work was keeping them warm, while warming his heart.