There really are real, living angels who dwell among us. Seemingly, they can move mountains, inspire nations or, in the case of a local angel, feed hundreds while teaching humility, grace and love.
Vicki Massey is that angel. And today she is an angel in need.
I met Mrs. Massey through a friend when I learned that one of my own students had no food. My student was a mother of three children and had returned to college in hopes of earning a degree and higher wages but in the time she left work, her husband was laid off. They had to prioritize which bills to pay and determined a roof over their heads was more important than food. Massey quickly offered assistance but my student was ashamed of her situation and resisted help. That was how I met Midlothian’s own angel. I arrived with the hope of getting one or two bags of food for my student’s family. An hour later, loaded down with more food than I could have ever imagined, I got to hear the story of how Massey’s food pantry came to be.
Each week, Massey and her volunteers feed 441 seniors in Midlothian. Living with those seniors are 1,109 children and/or grandchildren who rely upon the food pantry for food. But last week Massey received the devastating news that her 1,550 charges, people whom she’s come to know and love, calls by their first names, remembers their personal histories, health issues and even facts about family pets or upcoming anniversaries, may no longer be fed. When an audit of the school district was threatened so was the food pantry. Because of a clerical error, the proper paperwork was not filed and suddenly Massey, her volunteers and the many tax paying citizens who desperately need her aid must pony up $41,000 a year to rent the two-room space at Laura Jenkins Elementary, also home to the food pantry. The harsh reality is, they do not have the funds.
In her younger years, Massey dreamed of being a lawyer with the hope of making a difference in people’s lives, helping the helpless and changing laws. Instead, she fell in love, got married and began a life of volunteer work around raising her own family. She worked (or volunteered) as advisory president and then secretary at the Dallas Parks and Recreation. When she noticed that the different parks and recreation centers were not communicating with each other, she quickly implemented a program that demanded the monthly meetings be held at different recreations centers so they would all learn about each other, understand each other and love each other. For anyone who knows Massey, she is all about the love.
I found this out on a return visit to the food pantry. She made sure each senior who walked through the door was spoken to. She asked about health and family, inquired about living conditions and gave each person a hug.
Massey is the product of a young, unwed mother who was ill equipped for the role of mother. Her father was killed in a car accident and so her grandparents, who lost both their sons in World War II, became Massey’s parents. This, she believes, is the reason she has such a fondness and respect for the elderly.
Years later when she and her husband, Hershel, moved to Midlothian, Massey immediately connected with the senior center and made a startling discovery. There were members of the community, her community, who were eating cat food. They could not afford the 69 cents for a can of tuna but could afford 17 cents for a can of cat food.
While Massey says this broke her heart, I disagree. It made her heart swell to proportions most of us could never know and may never feel. How many of us truly put our lives on hold, stop everything we are doing to devote our lives to service others? How many of us would acquire trailers, hunt down vendors and grocery stores and private donators to get fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy for strangers? How many of us would drive countless hours and miles to find locations where she could stand in the rain and wind and heat to hand out food, each time saying, “I love you,” to the recipient just to be sure they had been told that for the day?
Over the last two decades, Massey and her volunteers have stood in a lumber yard, behind a gas station, in parking lots and on the side of the road to make sure her neighbors can eat properly. Roughly seven years ago, former school superintendent Kennedy made the arrangement between the food pantry and Laura Jenkins Elementary School when a space was made available.
From the beginning, it was meant to be. Two walk-in freezers that had not been used in over 20 years worked the instant they were turned on. Volunteers suddenly appeared when a giant food shipment came in. The three local cement plants all invested time, energy and communal service to the food pantry. The Problem Solvers and Boy Scouts of America adopted Massey’s amazing project to further her wonderful cause and word of mouth spread the news of her good works. But talk to Massey and it is all about everyone else. She thanks local banks and businesses, local industry, the school district, her neighbors and friends, always diminishing her own efforts except to say that this senior generation that she feeds and loves is unlike any other generation and needs to be cared for.
That day I met Vicki Massey, I had my hand out for five people she did not know and she put a 16 pound turkey in it. All I had to say was I knew a family of five, with three teenagers and she loaded my car with all the food she could, all the time telling me how they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed, that we all fell on hard times and this was why we all needed to love and care for one another because you never knew when your time might come for a little help.
So, here we are on Christmas morning and I’m asking for a little help, a little miracle for the sweetest angel I know. She once wanted to be a lawyer so she could change the world and help others. She’s done that 10 times over and I don’t want to see her stopped.
None of us should see her stopped.
Please help this angel in her mission to help others by sending money to the Senior Citizen’s Food Pantry at Vintage Bank in Midlothian.
Merry Christmas and don’t forget to tell those around you, “I love you.” That’s what Vicki Massey does.
1431 S. MIDLOTHIAN PKWY
MIDLOTHIAN, TX 76065
Now residing in “the nicest city in Texas,” Alexandra Allred is the author of numerous books, including White Trash, Damaged Goods and the Allie Lindell series. Visit her website, www.alexandratheauthor, or Twitter @alexandraallred but always check out her column the WDL as she ponders all things Waxahachie and beyond its borders.