Desiree Alvarez and her two young children, an Army family in Tacoma, Washington, were down to their last six dollars when they appeared on CBS Evening News in late February. They were accepting donations of food and anything else available because there simply wasn’t enough money to go out and buy groceries.
Meanwhile, Tory Adams-Pittman, Sunpro Solar’s Employee Engagement Specialist, tuned into the CBS broadcast from her home thousands of miles away. She shared an instant connection to Desiree’s story.
“Hearing a mom say, ‘I don’t know how to feed my kids’ resonated with me immediately. I was once a military spouse in the same shoes,” said Adams-Pittman.
The story struck her on a deeply personal level. That’s because roughly 20 years ago, Tory was in an all-too-similar situation; only, now she was seeing it play out again. This time, on national news.
You can watch the CBS Evening News story here:
OVERWHELMING GENEROSITY: Thousands of military families are struggling with hunger, and after hearing some of their stories @CBSEveningNews viewers responded.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 31, 2021
“My ex-husband was active-duty military 20 years ago. We were actually surviving on just $499.12/bi weekly with no food allowance, so we began collecting cans to turn in for change to buy groceries just to feed our family,” said Adams-Pittman. “Neighbors would even leave household and baby supplies on our porch anonymously. They’ll never know just how amazing that was for us.”
Military families like Tory’s and the Alvarez family often rely exclusively on the military income of the enlisted partner. Every few years, families will move to their next duty station several hundred miles away which can mean the loss of a second income. For spouses, finding a steady office job is a challenge. Worse, family financial stability is sometimes even more challenging—especially during a pandemic.
“With just one income from the military, we would pay rent, bills, insurance and have just a couple hundred dollars left. It was a very difficult time. My husband had to work so hard and deal with so much pressure,” said Alvarez. “We weren’t even sure if we were allowed to go to food banks. Even worse, our military food allowance had to be used to cover bills.”
The story on CBS was enough to inspire Tory Adams-Pittman to do something; something to return the kindness that was given to her two decades ago. She wanted to lend a hand by trying to hire Desiree for a remote position with Sunpro Solar.
“Service-members make so many sacrifices for their families, and their dependents face many challenges to manage a household and learn a new way of life,” said Adams-Pittman. “We are a veteran-owned company and we make a big deal about our veteran and military employees and I thought to myself ‘What Would Marc Jones Do?’ I took the leap of faith and tried to make this work.”
After contacting the production team at CBS and speaking with members of the Combat Military Hunger initiative of the Military Family Advisory Network, Tory was finally able to make contact with Desiree and encourage her to apply for a position at Sunpro Solar.
Desiree Alvarez said, “Whenever I got the email about an interested employer, I thought there was no way this could be real. There are so many military spouses going through the same things, so I know what a job like this would mean to them. A work from home position like this is a dream job.”
On March 8th, Desiree started her first day of training as an employee of Sunpro Solar. After hearing her story on the CBS Evening News broadcast just days earlier, Tory moved quickly to find a home for Desiree in the Sunpro Solar family.
“No matter where we go I can still have my kids with me without having to pay for childcare in a new community. Having that extra income means we can meet our day-to-day bills and do more for our kids. It was such a blessing and everything I was wanting from a job,” said Alvarez, now an Account Manager/Customer Experience representative with Sunpro Solar.
Many military families stationed on bases in the United States struggle with hunger and unemployment. However, there is hope. Veterans and military spouses alike find opportunity with Sunpro Solar largely because it is a veteran-owned company with remote positions in different departments across the country.
When asked about what this story means to her going forward, Tory Adams-Pittman said, “Our company is all about empowering what we can do to change someone’s life. We’ve made things easier for their family and now I want to see how we can continue to do more work that spreads kindness.”