Former Food Bank client shares her story of domestic abuse & alcoholism

Jul 27, 2018

A woman who escaped domestic violence and conquered alcoholism is sharing her story to offer hope for others. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke with Jillian James who says a women's shelter and food assistance saved her life.

“I really just wanted to let people know it can happen to you. I was living in Orchard Park – you know and I had every bell and whistle that you could think of,” explained Jillian James of Cheektowaga.

James said she never expected to turn to any type of assistance. But she is very grateful for the work of the Food Bank of Western New York.  She's no longer in need of the services and now is a store manager at LifeStorage in Lackawanna.

James is sharing her story with the community to help spread the hunger message and is thrilled to sever as a volunteer at the Food Bank's 'Walk Off Hunger' event Saturday in Williamsville.

“I ended up in a shelter. I didn’t have a great marriage. It was just kind of falling apart and I was drinking way too much. I hit a bottom and I ended up at the shelter and I remember the first couple of days I had actually brought food because I was concerned – ‘I don’t know where it’s coming from, but then the longer I was there then I found out it was coming from the Food Bank,” James recalled.

James was at a women’s shelter for eight months. She escaped an abusive husband.

“I felt I was at such a bottom,” James described. “I just drank because I didn’t know what else to do.”

Her daughters conducted an intervention and she was initially brought to Buffalo General Hospital, where doctors told her the amount of alcohol in her system was as much as the size of a 250-pound man.

“I was drinking a lot.  I was drinking vodka – you know those huge bottles of vodka with the handle on them – I was drinking like two of those a day,” James said.

But after surviving a difficult recovery, James emerged ready to give back to the community. James will be part of Saturday’s the Food Bank’s ‘Walk Off Hunger’ beginning at 10 a.m. at Island Park in Williamsville.