TAMPA, Fla. -- Before she started doing standup gigs at a Tampa comedy club, Maria Fabian was homeless and hungry.
She hid her struggles from everyone.
“I didn’t want people to picture me that way,” she says, standing outside of the Tampa Improv in Ybor City, where her comedy routines often focus on a tough childhood.
“I can take a serious situation and just pull the funniest part from it,” Fabian says.
Maria was the class clown during her senior year at Hillsborough High School. There was nothing funny about her search for food:
“Every morning I got a free breakfast at school," said Fabian. "And I wouldn’t eat again until breakfast the next day.”
Maria lived with an aunt, who, for tangled reasons involving a boyfriend, eventually left Maria to pretty much fend for herself.
The 28-year-old says foolish pride kept her from asking for help. She was also unaware of food pantries and food banks like Feeding Tampa Bay.
She finally revealed everything to a teacher who helped her find a shelter.
“You never know what happens when you put that pride aside,” Fabian says.