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Finding thanks, even in stressful times

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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To donate to the Salt Mine:
Donations can be made online at the saltmine.org, in person at The Salt Mine, 590 Lincoln Blvd. or at P.O. Box 155, Lincoln, CA 95648. Or call the office at 645-3778 for more information.

If Kandace Rickard-Lohner chose not to smile this week, I would understand 100 percent.
The 21-year-old Lincoln resident’s health-care job quickly disappeared during the last four weeks.
Rickard-Lohner’s five-day-a-week job unexpectedly dropped to three-days-and-a-half weekly to three days weekly to just seven hours and 50 minutes last week.
As a result, she now stretches what little dollars there are on just the necessities: food, clothing and shelter.
Forget about the bonus items we all buy automatically at the store, such as an extra pack of gum, the more expensive brand of soap or coffee at the café counter.
I’m sure Rickard-Lohner is only concerned about making sure she and her husband have the basics each day.
If I was in her position, I would curse my bad luck.
Rickard-Lohner, though, is not bitter about her current financial problems.
She is realistic. Rickard-Lohner knows that her boss didn’t want to cut her job’s hours; that he would provide a job for her if he financially could.
But that doesn’t stop Rickard-Lohner from being scared and sad.
“It’s November. I’m supposed to be preparing Thanksgiving dinner and shopping for Christmas gifts,” Rickard-Lohner said.
Instead, she found herself at The Salt Mine’s food closet for her first time Friday picking up free food items for the week. Rickard-Lohner had nowhere else to go; she said she couldn’t turn to her family members who are also having financial difficulties. After her Salt Mine visit, Rickard-Lohner planned to visit the nonprofit Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center to find help in locating another job.
“I’m scared I’m not dealing with this well,” Rickard-Lohner said.
But she smiled, “knowing I have resources like The Salt Mine.”
The nonprofit Salt Mine on 590 Lincoln Blvd. provides food, clothing and other resources to area residents in need.
“It makes me feel good to be here at The Salt Mine,” Rickard-Lohner said. “I used to work at Walmart and would let The Salt Mine know when Walmart’s donations were ready.”
Little did Rickard-Lohner imagine back then that she would need help from The Salt Mine.
Today, she is appreciative that The Salt Mine is here for any resident going through a tough time.
“Billie (a Salt Mine volunteer Friday) is friendly. All you have to do is walk in and they don’t interrogate you. They ask how they can help,” Rickard-Lohner said.
This Thanksgiving week, Rickard-Lohner especially wants to thank all the residents who donate to The Salt Mine.
Billie Robson, the volunteer who aided Rickard-Lohner Friday, said that the thanks by those receiving help there “are endless.”
“They’re very grateful for food, vouchers for clothing, Thanksgiving meal Wednesday for the homeless and others needing a home-cooked meal,” Robson said. “People come here for a home church, shower, hygiene items.”
Judy Vannatta credits The Salt Mine with “turning my life around.”
Every week for a year, The Salt Mine gave Vannatta food for her two grandchildren and herself.
Disabled and retired for the last 15 years ago, Vannatta said that she was homeless and money was tight for a long time.
“I heard about The Salt Mine and they put food on my table,” said Vannatta, at The Salt Mine Friday to pick up a Thanksgiving food basket. “Life started getting better. Money became more stable.”
Not having to worry about having enough food for her family brought a normalcy to her daily life.
“I don’t know what I would have done without The Salt Mine,” Vannatta said.
From October to April, 3,000 Lincoln and Sheridan residents monthly receive help at The Salt Mine, according to Salt Mine administrator Blake Long. Between 1,500 and 2,500 residents receive help monthly from May to September.
That care includes food, housing needs and homeless care, Long said.
To provide for these families and individuals, the nonprofit Salt Mine relies on donations, in the form of dollars, thrift store items and canned food, from other residents.
“We’re thankful for our community, helping us to be able to serve and feed all our families this holiday season,” Long said.
Happy Thanksgiving! The Lincoln News Messenger wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday.

Carol Feineman can be reached at 774-7972 or carolf@goldcountrymedia.com.