Time Is Now: Lonely woman sees brighter days ahead
I apologize for my sloppy handwriting. I am losing my eyesight. I am a senior citizen who has outlived my family. My husband died 15 years ago from a heart attack after he learned our son had been killed in a car accident. My daughter died from complications during surgery.
I worked until I was 77 years old and began to lose my vision. I could not do my job. It was sad for me when I had to give up my job and driving. I was a caregiver for people with special needs. After I lost my family, my job was the only thing that got me through the grief. My job also helped me to pay my bills. My house is in need of repairs. My utilities are overdue and scheduled for disconnection. The only thing that helps to cheer me up now is my dog and cat.
I know you are busy helping many poor people. If you have time, could you check on an old woman?
— Alone and losing hope
This woman had endured more grief than most people we help. She was not only enduring poverty, she also was struggling with her own health and loss of vision, all while living alone. I knew we could help.
When we visited the woman, we were shocked by the condition of her small home. It had been neglected for several years due to the woman's dwindling vision and lack of funds.
Once she let us in we watched as she felt her way to her chair as the old dog hobbled around her and her cat leapt onto her lap. We commented on how much her pets loved her. The woman smiled and said, “Thank God I have them. They are my only happiness.”
Looking around, it was easy to see how old the appliances and furniture were. I asked about her house and she told me she had lived there with her mother and cared for her after her husband had died.
I asked about her food supply. She said she occasionally got a meal from her neighbor and every two weeks she has county transportation take her grocery shopping. I knew this was not enough to keep her well nourished.
When I asked what she fed her pets, she said, “My dog and cat eat what I don't eat. I have been trying to save up enough money to get my dog to the vet. I think she is in pain because she cries sometimes at night.”
I asked who the vet was and she gave me their phone number. I made a note to call the vet to see if he would do a house call for the dog.
I asked if she would be able to go over her bills. The woman said she had not been able to keep up with her utilities. I told her we would pay her overdue utilities and pay some ahead.
I could see this woman needed more than just her utility bill paid. I couldn't leave her to continue struggling in her rundown house alone.
I mentioned that I had a group of volunteers who would love to help her with food and driving. I asked about her eyesight. She said when she had been to the eye doctor nine months ago, he said she had macular degeneration, glaucoma and severe cataracts. He also told her cataract surgery would be needed to possibly restore 20 percent of her vision. I was shocked she had not done the surgery.
The woman said, “What was I supposed to do? I did not have anyone to drive me there, I did not have anyone to help me or help with my pets.”
I said to her, “Well you do not have that excuse anymore. You will be getting that surgery as soon as you can schedule your appointment. I have volunteers that would be happy to help.”
Once I made phone calls to have food delivered for the woman and her pets, I promised I would stay in touch, I would contact her vet and I would communicate with her and her eye doctor. Now a new stove and refrigerator have been delivered. Food is in the refrigerator. The utilities are on and the pets are receiving better care.
A volunteer took the woman to her eye procedure and back and made sure she had medications and food and even took care of her pets.
The next day I called the woman and she was excited to share she could see again. She said, “Thank you to everyone at The Time Is Now to Help. I could never have done this on my own. You have done so much to help me. I can't believe how much my life has changed.”
— Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,
Special thank you to: Fox Charities, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Bess Spiva Timmons Foundation, The Rhoades Foundation, Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Martin Group, Interstate Insurance Group, Edward and Colleen Lesniak, Marilyn Busa, Mark and Julia Kiehl, Rita's Wells Street Salon, Lauren Grady, Phyllis Kutz, Carolyn May Essel, Margarie Egger, George and Lauretta Clettenberg, Yvonne Mol, Joan Marabito Rietz, Sid and Patty Johnson, William and Jean Isaacson, Marvin and Audrey Hersko, Beth and Jody Rendall, Gerald and Joyce Byers, Emily De Baere, John Poiron, Dorothy Tookey, Gregory and Kathryn Pryor, Jeanette Logterman, Peterson Drywall, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers and all the God loving volunteers of all our pantries.
Editor's note: The Time is Now to Help was founded by a local businessman who knew extreme poverty as a child. With the help of donations from the community, The Time is Now is able to help local residents in need.