Systemic Change at the Community Level

The Chicken lady – The Holy Spirit works in strange ways

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    Irene Frechette
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    Santa Rosa’s Got Eggs:
    In the Fall of 2015, Linda called us for assistance. Linda’s husband works hauling rocks and when the weather is bad, there is no work, and therefore, no paycheck. We had had a lot of rain and her husband had missed several days of work. They didn’t have enough income to meet all of their bills. They were $500 short on their rent. Linda also has a teenage son, Dylan, a high school junior.

    During the home visit Linda was focused on getting assistance with her rent. However, our home visitors couldn’t help but notice the sights, sounds, and smells of the 300+ free range chickens on Linda’s property. The home visitors asked about the chickens and soon discovered that Linda and Dylan had started an egg business with 350 chickens.

    When they started selling eggs to local area businesses things were going well until the Health Department shut them down. Linda was told that to sell the eggs commercially they would need to attend an Egg Grading Certification class at Texas A&M University in College Station. Then they could obtain a state license which would enable them to sell eggs commercially. The class is held 2-3 times per year and the next class was in 3 weeks. Linda didn’t have the money to pay for the class or the gas to get there.

    After assuring Linda that she would receive a call from SVdP that afternoon regarding the rent, the home visit team left. On their way back home the two Vincentians began discussing Linda, her family and their chickens. Thinking proactively, the home visit team recommended to the Conference that we assist with the rent, pay for the class for both Linda and her son from our Memorial Scholarship Fund, and also give them a $40 gas card to help with gas expenses for the trip to College Station.

    When Linda received the news, she was overcome with emotions. Early on a Saturday, she and Dylan traveled the two and a half hours to College Station where they successfully completed the Egg Grading Class. Subsequently, they applied for and obtained their State license.

    Since that time we have followed up with the family several times by phone and in person. The chickens are laying about 30 dozen eggs a day. The business now has 4 commercial contracts and is also selling at one of the local Farmers’ Markets. Linda has gotten a “lease to own” contract on a 10 x 16 building which she is using as a coop at night to keep the chickens safe from predators.

    In April, Linda and Dylan received an order of 100 Spring Chicks. In May she added another 200. In the Fall, her older chickens will molt and stop laying. But, because she has planned ahead and had the income to purchase spring chicks, Linda will continue to have eggs to fulfill her contracts because these spring chicks will have started laying. Linda is currently in talks with two more area restaurants.

    Linda and Dylan now average about $600/week. On two separate occasions Linda has donated 30 dozen eggs to our food pantry. She credits the assistance she received from St. Vincent de Paul with the ongoing success of her egg business. She told us, “Thank you so much for helping us. Without your help we would have been on the road with our chickens.”

    This is one example of Systemic Change one individual, one family at a time all because one home visit team took the time to listen.

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