In 2015, Tamika Bright had worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for just one week before a tragic incident changed her life. In an attempt to put out an accidental grease fire at her home, Bright received third-degree burns to the right side of her body, leaving her badly injured.
While her job as an administrative support specialist in the Department of Environmental Health and Safety was secure during the medical leave she had to take to heal, the injury put Bright in a difficult financial position.
At the recommendation of her manager, Bright applied for support from UAB’s Employee Emergency Assistance Program, a Benevolent Fund program aimed at helping employees with unforeseen medical costs, with funds donated by other UAB employees. The financial support Bright received from the EEAP alleviated much of the stress for Bright and her family as she recovered from her injuries, and inspired a desire to give back.
“I was thinking to myself, if I could give (the Benevolent Fund) a million dollars, I would. It was just amazing,” Bright said. “They helped with bills, and funds were just deposited into my account.”
Bright became a steadfast donor to the Benevolent Fund, always willing to give to make sure others had similar care when in need. She did not know, however, how soon she would again need help from the Benevolent Fund.
Blazer Kitchen: providing food, supplies and support
In 2020, Bright found herself in a challenging situation once more when she was widowed. Unable to adequately provide food for herself and her teenage son, she returned for support from the Benevolent Fund, this time from Blazer Kitchen.
The Benevolent Fund provides huge impact through its Blazer Kitchen. That on-campus food pantry serves food-insecure students, employees and patients in nine UAB Medicine clinics by providing a space for people to collect fresh, frozen and nonperishable food, including personal care items such as toiletries – all at no cost.
“There were times when I had to choose between gas and eating,” Bright explained. “As moms, we look out for our kids, and I didn’t want my son to go hungry.”
In accessing resources from Blazer Kitchen, Bright was able to ensure that she and her son had enough healthy food on their table, especially fresh fruit – her son’s favorite.
On Thursday, Nov. 18, Blazer Kitchen will host its annual Blazers Against Hunger one-day giving event. Held each year to support the work of Blazer Kitchen, Blazers Against Hunger ensures that Blazer Kitchen can continue to meet the needs of the growing UAB community.
“Having a resource at UAB where both nourishment and the compassion offered is a life-changing option for many,” said Benevolent Fund Manager Lisa Higginbotham. “But it is even more powerful knowing that the support Blazer Kitchen provides is funded by donations from the UAB community.”
Beyond the Blazers Against Hunger one-day giving event, Blazer Kitchen always accepts help to further its mission of reaching all Blazers struggling with hunger. For recipients like Bright, who have and continue to depend on Blazer Kitchen’s resources, any amount of support and/or donation makes the difference.
“We could have easily been in the hunger pile, but we weren’t – Blazer Kitchen saved me. It saved my family,” Bright said. “You never know what people are going through, and I’ve always been a person to smile through my pain. So, when you think you’re not helping someone, you really are. Any amount of support goes a long way.”
To help support Blazer Kitchen, donate through Blazers Against Hunger on Nov. 18. Find more information and give at uab.edu/blazersagainsthunger.
This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.