The Time is Now: Woman and her pet find a new lease on life after fire

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Sal Dimiceli | December 23, 2015

Dear W.C.,

Could you please help a senior citizen I know is in need of The Time Is Now to Help? She is living in a motel room after the garage apartment she was renting caught fire. She managed to get out safely with her dog, but none of her belongings. She has used what little she had saved to pay for the motel room. Even in the cheap, shabby motel, the only one she was able to bring her pet to, it is much too expensive for her small income. I have dropped off food and some donated clothing. Another organization paid for a week in the motel and gave her a small packet of toiletries. This is all she has to her name. This woman has no responsible family to turn to for help. She often told me the only family she could count on was her pet. Can you please stop by her motel to check on her?

Dear Readers,

I was familiar with the name of the woman that had written the letter. She was someone we had given assistance to several years ago. I called her phone number provided and we spent a few minutes catching up on all that had happened in her life in the past two years. I was very happy to hear she was doing much better after our assistance and could care for herself and her two children.

The woman that wrote the letter then began to tell me about the senior woman she was worried about. She told me she had encouraged the senior woman to write a letter but knew her pride would keep her from doing it. I asked how she knew the senior woman and she told me they had lived in the same apartment complex years ago and remained friends. The letter writer agreed to meet me at the motel and we would knock on her door together.

I met the friend in the parking lot outside the senior's room. She was carrying a dish with a hot meal she had prepared for her. She also had a bag of dog food. I also had brought a bag of nonperishable foods and some toiletries. We both commented on how we knew we could not come empty handed. The friend smiled saying, “I learned this a few years ago from you when you helped my kids and I when we needed help so badly. It was the best meal we had eaten in weeks.”

We knocked on the door and it was answered by a senior woman and a friendly little dog wagging its tail happily. The woman looked confused when she saw me but was happy to see her friend. The friend introduced me to the senior woman. She shook my hand and invited us both inside, apologizing for the small, and rundown motel room.

The senior woman did not seem to realize who I was until her friend explained she had written a letter in her behalf. The friend said to the senior woman, “Remember I told you how The Time Is Now to Help had helped me a few years ago when I was sick and had lost my job. They paid my rent and utilities and even brought over some food for the children and me.”

The senior woman looked embarrassed but asked some questions about The Time Is Now to Help. She confessed she had read some of our newspaper columns and had thought about writing to us for help, but did not have the courage to do so. She said, “I was worried you would tell me I should get rid of my dog like other people have done. I will not move anywhere that tells me I can't keep my best friend.”

I assured her we are all animal lovers at The Time Is Now to Help and would never tell her she had to get rid of her animal companion. I shared with her how we had donors, including The Petco Foundation that donated specifically for the purpose of helping our poverty stricken pet family members. This brought a look of relief to her face.

I asked if she minded sharing with me her story and her financial situation. She looked to her friend and she encouraged her by telling her, “Sal will ask you questions and give you advice that will help get you out of this motel and into an apartment. Do you want me to leave the room while you talk?” The senior woman said, “No dear. You can stay. I know you have my best interests at heart. I have nothing to hide from you.”

We talked for over an hour. I heard about the senior woman's grown children and their problems with alcohol. She told me she had not heard from either of her grown sons in over ten years. Her husband had left her ten years before that, when she was in her fifties, to move in with a much younger woman. She said she was glad she had not heard from him in years.

She only had her own social security she was living on. It had been enough for her to get by in her previous garage apartment rental. I asked the senior woman if she had found another rental yet. She told me about an apartment becoming available in a few weeks but she no longer had a security deposit and first month's rent. They had been used to stay in the much overpriced weekly rental.

I went over her budget and saw she would be able to afford this rental if we provided the security deposit and first month's rent. She also had a small amount overdue on her utilities that would have to be paid in full to enable her to have the new utilities put in her name.

After a thorough review I told her we would pay for the rent, security deposit and overdue utility bill. We also would pay for a cleaner, more reasonable motel for the next two weeks until her apartment was available.

The senior woman looked close to tears when I told her all “We” would do to help her in her time of need. She picked up her little dog and tried to hide her tears as she hugged her little friend.

She began to cry saying, “I am so grateful we both got out of that fire alive. I would never have been able to survive if my little friend hadn't made it. Then I was so worried we would become homeless and I would not be able to feed him. I would have fed my dog before I bought food for myself. Now you come here and take all that worry away. You have no idea how relieved I am. God bless you and God bless the donors that have helped us.”

The friend who had written the letter put her arms around the senior woman saying, “See I told you they would help you. I told you they were all good people.” The senior woman hugged both her friends as she shed tears of relief.

That same day, along with the letter writer's help, we moved the senior woman and her pet to the clean motel. She had hardly any belongings other than her car and the few donated items. A volunteer did some shopping and dropped off several bags of food, toiletries and personal items. We provided gift cards for clothing and household necessities for when she made the move to her apartment. Two weeks later we helped her move her few belongings into the apartment we had already had a new bed and bedding, and a donated couch, table and chairs delivered to. Food was in the cupboards and refrigerator. I invited the senior woman in to see her new apartment.

The senior woman walked into her apartment and spun around in a circle, taking in her new surroundings. She had a huge smile on her face as she set her dog down and walked around the small apartment touching all the items “You” had provided for her. I could see the astonishment on her face. She finally turned to me, wrapped me in a big hug and began to cry happy tears. She asked me, “How is all this possible?” I told her about all of “You” and your generous donations that made it possible. I told her how all of “You” are so remarkable and how much we all accomplish together. She was crying as she said, “I never knew there were so many good people that care. Please tell everyone thank you for everything you have done to help me. Hopefully someday I can pay it forward just like my friend did for me.”

Thank you to all of “You” for Caring and Sharing.

Health & Happiness, God Bless Everyone, W.C./Sal                    

Please Help:There are many coming to us in desperation. Our good fellow creations need our compassion. Together we make a big difference. Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax deductible, itemized thank you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.                            

A Very Special Thank You: Fox Charities, Clarence & Marilyn Schawk Family Foundation, I.Am.Giving Foundation, Geneva Wells Motel, Martin Group, John Stensland & Family, Lake Geneva Area Realty, ITW Foundation, Petco Foundation, Therese Kuban, Thomas Getzen, Royal Neighbors of America, DC Mitigation, Rita's Wells Street Salon, Donald & Jean Smith, Michael Glass, William & Dorothy Tookey, Deborah Lapicola, Joseph & Beth Pizzo, Donald & Anne Ogne, Michael & Frances Ukropin, John Race, Louise & Clifford Morris, Robert Ribordy, John Poiron, Lauren Grady, Gerald & Marilyn Wilkin, James & Doris Watson, John & Marian McClellan, James & Marilynn Dyer, Frank & Florence Bogyos, Walter & Florence Strumpf, Mary Berry, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God loving volunteers of all our caring pantries, ALL of you who support The Time Is Now to Help donation boxes, and the businesses that allow our donation boxes.

Anyone who would like a Time Is Now donation box in your business, please call (262) 249-7000.                                             

Please visit: www.timeisnowtohelp.org      

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