When Tammy Wittmer-Bagby and her husband first got married, they donated to food pantries often. Soup, peanut butter, pasta – a few items so that another family might struggle a little less that month. They didn’t know that someday their own family would need that kind of help.
A string of difficult circumstances led to the Bagbys coming to North Hills Community Outreach. Tammy has multiple sclerosis and degenerative arthritis of the spine; her husband has an autism-spectrum disorder and a disabling health issue. Tammy’s first pregnancy was so difficult that her husband took leave to care for her…but then lost his job. Their son Vincent, now 6, has autism, ADD, and asthma; Tammy homeschools him, so she can attend to his needs. Tammy’s second pregnancy was ectopic. Although doctors said she’d have no more children, she became pregnant.
Although born healthy, baby Victor acquired a virus that led to severe asthma, digestive problems and a hole in his heart. Now 10 months old, he requires medications and a special super-nutritive diet.
Tammy first came to NHCO’s food pantry when her husband lost his job six years ago. North Hills Community Outreach paid the gas bill when the Babgys’ heat was to be shut off. When their refrigerator and oven gave out – “Imagine your oven door being held on with duct tape,” Tammy says– NHCO provided replacements, as well as a washer and dryer when lightning destroyed theirs. They have received coats from Winter Coat Shop, holiday toys, and Spring Share baskets.
“It stings the pride to say I need help, but I find myself so thankful –for the diapers and formula, food, everything. Without it, the kids wouldn’t be doing so well.”
Tammy’s sense of humor, endless energy and positive outlook carry her through each day. The support she receives at NHCO helps her maintain her dignity and focus on her family’s many needs. Vincent’s attention has improved dramatically; she proudly notes he loves robotics, science and math. She’s seeking part-time work and her husband volunteers as a HAZMAT technician with his local VFD. “They say God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle,” Tammy notes. “NHCO helps with that. They make the kids feel not left out. They make life bearable.”