Marnie Basick, Manna on Main Street Client

Posted by Philabundance Digital Media on October 25th, 2016

Client Marnie 2016

Marnie (left) and friend, Barb, in the Manna on Main Street food pantry.


Marnie is a smart and creative native New Yorker, who likes to write songs and poetry and has a BA from Penn State and Master’s degree from Arcadia University. She’s also on disability and goes to a local pantry for food and other support.

Marnie has faced a lot of adversity in her life. Her mother passed away when she was 15 and five other family members died within a year of her passing. It looked like the tide was turning when she got into Queens College but she had crippling depression and other mental health issues that forced her to drop out. But Marnie’s no quitter.

Thirteen years later, Marnie returned to college, attended Penn State where she made three honor societies, graduated Magna Cum Laude and then attended Arcadia University for her Masters. Despite working at Home Depot and even securing scholarship money from the big box store, she found herself in debt.

In 2010, she became unable to work due to herniated discs in her back, fibromyalgia and her struggles with anxiety and depression, as well as her battle with addiction. Six years later, she still isn’t working. She isn’t happy about her situation, and is less happy that some say she’s taking the easy way out.

“I don’t think there’s anything easy about getting $20 a month in food stamps to live on.”

She looked at Manna on Main Street, a Philabundance Member Agency, as her last resort.

“I have just enough money to get by if bills aren’t too expensive. But if I need work on the car or something big happens, or even my prescriptions are too expensive – I don’t have savings to pay for it.”

At the moment, she’s uncertain of her housing situation as her landlord wants to sell the property in which she lives.

“I’m trying to get into subsidized housing but I don’t know if I’ll get in. Then I don’t know where I’ll go. It’s scary.”

She notes that she’s number 69 on the list for subsidized housing, but that it will be years before she can get into a new place, and she will likely be homeless before that happens. “This is an illustration of how the system does not work and leaves us hanging. They’ll help you faster if you’re homeless, but why do we have to get to that point first?”

Marnie joined Getting Ahead at Manna to meet others in her same situation, to make friends and to learn how to break the cycle of poverty. Manna has given her more than education, it’s given her good health; once 250 pounds, Marnie is now 160 pounds due to her diet of fresh produce, and healthier options like low-sodium and low-sugar foods she secures from Manna.

“Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you don’t want to take care of your health.”

After graduating from Getting Ahead in May, she’s made great friends, like Barb Grote, and she is now helping co-facilitate the new class, using her skills to make a difference.

“My goal is to use my education for what I went to school for — to teach. That’s my way of giving back.”

When talking about sharing her story, she said “if it can help someone, it’s worth it.”

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