Caring friend, unseen volunteers make all the difference for homeless, jobless senior

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Sal Dimiceli | September 23, 2013

Dear W.C.,

There is a woman who was evicted from our apartment building about two months ago. I know she is in need of your help. She is older and does not have any children living to help her.

I gave her $40, all I had left to my name, so she could try to get a motel room. I am living in a one bedroom and have my own son staying on my couch or I would have gladly given her the couch for now. I was afraid I would be evicted if my landlord saw her living with me too.
She fit what belongings she could in her car. I am holding on to a few boxes of personal items for her. She is a good woman who has had a hard life. Both her husband and two sons died years ago. I think I am her only friend.

Please call her while she has a few minutes left on her phone.
  — Worried neighbor and friend
Dear readers,

I called the number listed several times but she never answered. I called the friend and asked her to pass on to her friend that I was trying to contact her. She told me where I could find her.

Even though it was already dark out, I drove to the store parking lot and found the car as described by the friend.

I walked up to the car and could see the friend was crouching down on the seat, not wanting to be seen. I introduced myself and held up one of my Time Is Now business cards and identification. She put on her glasses and read them through the window.

She unlocked the door and stepped out to meet me. The woman looked to be in her early 60s and very thin. When she shook my hand, I felt her hand shaking. I grasped her hand and asked why she was shaking.

She told me about how scared she had been since her eviction. She spent long nights hiding in her car, hoping no one would find her there alone. She started to cry and shake even more.

I told her, “Please do not cry. You will not have to spend another night in fear living in your car.”

I asked her to go to a restaurant across the street where we could talk. I knew she would be needing a meal.

We sat to eat and talk about what led to her homelessness. The woman began by explaining that her husband died two years ago, leaving her with debts and medical bills. He did not have health or life insurance, leaving her to sell all their belongings at a loss and move into the smallest, cheapest apartment she could afford.

She had been working part time but lost that job when she had become ill. She said no one wanted to hire a 62-year-old woman.

I asked how many hours she would like to work and she said, “As many as they will give me. I like working with people. It is much better than being home all by myself with too much time to think.”

I asked her about this comment and watched her face become sad as she told me how she had lost her two sons. One had been killed in the military and the other was killed in a car accident when he was a teenaer. She said she thought about them every day. I could see why spending too much time alone would be very hard for her.

We sat at the restaurant for a long time putting together a budget and a plan for her future. The first step would be to get her in a motel room and out of her car. She admitted to having a cat in her car, too. I told her how we love our companion animals at The Time Is Now to Help and would be sure wherever she moved would accept pets. She started to cry, saying, “Thank you. Other than the friend who wrote to you asking to help me, my cat is the only love I have left.” 

I told her about all of you who make The Time Is Now to Help possible.

By the time we were finished we had a plan for her, including a few jobs to apply for and finding a small apartment.

She moved into the motel immediately. We also provided her with gift cards to purchase minutes for her phone, food, toiletries and gas. She was very grateful and when she hugged me goodbye, I no longer felt her shaking.

The following week she was able to secure one of the part-time jobs I told her about. I had called the owner and she was so moved by this woman living in fear she said, “I have a job for her.”

We found a small apartment and provided first month's rent and security deposit. We furnished her apartment with everything from furniture to dishes that were donated. She cried tears of joy when she walked in the first time.

I said to her, “See, your unseen friends are thinking of your well-being.”

She also visited the WC Food Pantry and was happy to find they had cat food available thanks to the Petco Foundation and the Lake Geneva Petco supporting our pet food pantry program.

Thanks to everyone working together, we were able to help this homeless senior woman begin her life again. She shared with me on my last visit how different she feels now that she is interacting with people again. She also decided to volunteer for an animal welfare organization on her days off, bringing her much joy and new friends.

I was so proud of her transformation from being homeless, lonely and lost, to a volunteer, and so grateful for all of you who make this possible.

Together we restore hope and faith in the goodness of creation.
Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,
  — W.C./Sal
You can help. 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 Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax-deductible thank-you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.

A special thank you to: The Summertime Foundation, Fox Charities, Kunes Country Auto Group, Mark and Natalie Reno, Paul Ziegler/Ziegler Charitable Foundation, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Dr. Thomas Schuetz, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Jay and Karen Fritz, Barbara Spiegelhoff, Briggs & Stratton Power of Giving, Joseph and Elizabeth Doyle, Kenneth and Joyce Pagel, Joanne Batzler, Margaret Cardiff, Brendan and Julie Dobbin, Sid and Patty Johnson, John and Lynda

Visek, Harry and Phyllis Tiggemann, Brian and Gretchen Deitz, Holly Schneider Brown, Denise Sifuentes, B.J. Williams, Deborah Halverson, Todd Stuchiner, Yinan Wang, Craig Banyai, Edward Paredes, Aurora Health Care Employee Partnership Campaign, Gene Krauklis, Judith Mackessy, Shawna Kneipper, Heidi Hall, Mary Cucchi, Jeanne McDonald,
Shannon Hahn, Rebecca Hanson, Ronald and Carolyn Bloch, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God-loving volunteers of all our food 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.
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.

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