A little help gets single mom out of bad environment

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Sal Dimiceli | February 24, 2014

Dear W.C.,
Please help my family. We are in desperate need of assistance. My children and I are sharing a rental with my mother but this is a bad environment for us to be in. My mother did not tell me she was unable to pay her utilities due to her cigarettes and buying stuff for her new boyfriend. I found out she has been paying for her all boyfriend's expenses. He has her brainwashed into thinking she needs to help him, all while letting her own family down.

Now she told me she is going to move in with him, leaving me with the rent and unpaid utilities. We have been sharing a house for eighteen months. I thought living with my mother would be a good financial move for me when my husband left us two years ago. She promised to only smoke outside. Now I find she is gone most nights and when she is home with my children she is smoking inside with her boyfriend. Our deal was she would pay utilities and I would pay the rent. Now we are about to be evicted because she let our utilities be disconnected. I do not have the money to pay the overdue utilities. Every penny I earn goes to food, rent and gas for my car to get to work. I would love to get out of this situation and on our own. Can you please help us?

Dear Readers,
I called the mother and we spoke briefly about her situation. She invited me over right away as they had been living without utilities and they were about to be evicted because the terms on her lease were to keep the utilities on. I drove to the rental to see what kind of environment the children and mother were living in.

As soon as the mother opened the door to invite me in I could smell the strong odor of cigarettes in the air. I mentioned this and the mother said, "My mother hasn't been here since yesterday and I have the windows open. That is how much she smokes in the house. Everything smells of her smoke." After a brief walk thru the house I suggested we sit outside to talk, and that the children play outside as well. I noticed the children both had coughs. I explained to her about the negative health effects of second hand smoke on children and herself. She told me, "You don't have to tell me about that. I already know. My daughter has asthma that was manageable. It hadn't even bothered her until my mother started smoking in the house after her boyfriend told her it was her right. When he is here he smokes inside too." I could not believe how selfish these two adults were being to not care about the children's health, especially when it caused asthma attacks.

Over the years I have come across many young children with cancer and asthma. When a cigarette is smoked inside the carcinogens remain on the furniture, walls, flooring, window treatments, clothing-- all surfaces for days. The toxins in the cigarette smoke attack the children's developing respiratory system, causing coughing, wheezing, respiratory infections, then asthma, allergies and eventually cancer. I have come across several young children dying from cancer. I have seen them weak, having lost all their hair, watching out a window at the other healthy children playing outside. I did not want to see that happen to this family.

When she first moved in with her mother everything was OK, until the lazy boyfriend moved in. She did not realize it would be putting the health of her children and herself at risk. After a few more questions it was clear the mother and children needed to get out of that lease and move into a smaller place of their own. I offered to call the landlord on her behalf. The landlord was understandably upset by the utilities being disconnected. When I told him the only way the mother and children could get by in the future was by getting out of the lease he was even more upset. I talked with him for some time and we came to an agreement. If he could find a new renter right away he would apply her security deposit to the overdue utility bill. The mother agreed to those terms. After the conversation with the landlord we went over her budget to determine how much she could afford for rent on her own.

The woman told me, "I have been trying to get along with my mother her whole life. She always does what she wants without ever considering anyone else. Somehow she manages to always get by. This time she took me down with her. I can't worry about her anymore. I have to put my children first in my life." I knew this was a hard decision for her to make, but it was one she had to make.

I asked the mother if I could talk to her mother. She said she would try to get her to talk with me. She called her mother outside to talk. After introducing myself I tried to explain to her the importance of her smoking outside. She just did not seem to grasp the concept of the smoke affecting her grandchildren's health. I asked her if she loved her grandchildren and she said, "Of course." When I told her how smoking around the children was not being a loving grandmother, she did not want to hear any of this and walked in the house. Her boyfriend came outside with the smell of alcohol on his breath. He told me, "We can smoke anywhere we want!" I asked where he got his cigarettes. He looked confused by the question. I told him, "I was told you have not had a job in four years." This time he looked at me and smiled, as if to be proud of his record-breaking time of being lazy. The grandmother of the children stepped back outside, apparently having heard our conversation, and shouted, "I buy our cigarettes and beer. What of it?" I knew the only income she had was her disability check so the two were using that to fund their bad habits. They both stormed off and left the house. The mother of the children said she did this often to her when she did not want to hear what she should do. I could see the grandmother was beyond our capabilities of assistance and knew we needed to just help the mother and children.

I kept in touch with the mother for the next few days as she worked hard to find an affordable apartment to rent. I suggested a few rentals I knew of that were more within her price range. She agreed to go look. After going to see the rental, and noticing the lack of cigarette smoke odor in the building, she agreed to the move. The health of her children was the most important thing to be considered. I also kept in touch with the landlord, hopeful to hear if he had a new tenant for the home the mother was renting. God must have heard our prayers as everything seemed to fall into place quickly. The following day we found a two bedroom apartment she could afford. The landlord informed me he had a tenant ready to take the home the following week. He would make good on his offer and pay off the overdue utilities.
The grandmother returned to the house she rented with her daughter and grandchildren. She came one evening with the boyfriend, both puffing on cigarettes even though the mother told them repeatedly to leave their smoking outside, and took her belongings. She even took some belongings that were not hers but refused to listen to her daughter's pleas to stop as the boyfriend argued with her too. The mother called me in tears after they left, hurt by her own mother's betrayal again. She informed me they somehow had found another person to live with.

We helped this mother and two children with first month's rent and security deposit on her new apartment. We also helped them with some household necessities and toiletries, as these were the items the grandmother had taken with her, even though they did not belong to her. We provided the mother with gas gift cards to help with her daily commute to work. All this assistance enabled the mother and children to start out with a new budget, one that made their new life healthy and their apartment a home.

My last visit was to a clean-smelling apartment filled with children's laughter, not coughing and wheezing. They all kept repeating, "Thank you. Thank you." Their gratitude for not becoming homeless was shared with all of "you" that make our mission to bring poverty relief to those in need possible. 

Together, we will continue to replace the fear, pain and suffering of poverty, with compassion, healing, caring and sharing with our hearts to change lives. Thank you for helping us achieve God's good works for those in desperate need.

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

Please 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 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, Lake Geneva School of Cooking, Chef John Bogan, Pentair Foundation, The Summertime Foundation, Dick & Jean Honeyager, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Interstate Insurance Group, Keith Gibson & Family, Jim & Ardith Drescher, Nestor & Bien Alabarca, Dr. Gerald Theune, Bill & Susan Bosworth, Wayne Reuter, William & Carol Dick, Therese Kuban, Martin Group, John Stensland & Family, Marvin & Audrey Hersko, Albert & Ellen Burnell, Michael & Kathe Beach, Sylvester & Virginina Seick, Walter & Florence Strumpf, James & Karen Goodrick, Fit For A Queen, Michael Glass, Robert & Shirley Lipinski, Lauren Grady, William & Jean Isaacson, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God loving volunteers of all our caring 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. Please visit: www.timeisnowtohelp.org     

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