Mary (Peggy) Ripp served in San Jose, California in the 1980s.

Alumni story
Mary (Peggy) Ripp San Jose

In the 80's, I had had a nervous breakdown after raising 4 small children and being at home for many years, so I started volunteering at the Santa Clara Food Bank in San Jose, California. It was working so I signed up for the VISTA Program as a site inspector for the food pantries in the surrounding area. Because of my illness (I have a controllable mental illness), my husband actually went with me to various sites on his lunch hour so that I could find the locations and do the work.

This helped me get started and I ended up being a very good site inspector and helper for the churches and other pantries that were serving the poor. I was so good that after a couple of years, the Food Bank hired me as an office worker and then office manager. I continued to have mental illness and slight breakdowns at times, but worked them out through medications and psychological counseling. I kept on working until I found other employment at three homeless shelters and then left the Food Bank as an employee.

The VISTA work was instrumental in getting me on my feet and back in the workplace serving needy people. I am ever grateful for the program


Decade: 1980s