Everyone knows there are hungry people in America, but not everyone is as direct a witness to hunger as Khara Burns. She and the other members of Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline field over 4,100 calls a month. For four years Khara has been a frontline problem-solver and comforting voice for people struggling to feed themselves and their families. “The hardest part of this job,” explains the energetic young woman, “is knowing that, no matter how many calls we answer, it is a never-ending struggle for some people.” But Khara Burns, FoodSource Hotline Counselor, is undaunted.
A native Bostonian, Khara started her career in health care by studying to be a medical administrative assistant. She worked in a variety of health care settings, but kept looking for a way to help people — her passion — in a very direct way. Working on the frontlines of Project Bread fit the bill.
Responding to the calls for help that come to Project Bread’s cramped hotline office is a bit like being in the infantry in a battle. The immediacy of the work, the unpredictability of the calls, and the urgency in the voices of the callers are demanding, even dramatic. Khara’s eyes fill with tears when pressed to talk about the some of the frightened and traumatized people she directs to sources of help. There are the single mothers, the newly unemployed, the ones whose unemployment benefits just ended, and then the elderly. “I hear stories about seniors who have to decide if they are going to put food on the table or pay their medical bills,” she says with emotion. “That just shouldn’t be a choice!”