Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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500 columns, 5,000 helped

by Sal Dimiceli

January 17, 2013

It came to my attention just a few days ago that this week's column will be our 500th. I cannot believe we have been sharing our charity work at The Time Is Now to Help with our supporters and readers for nearly 10 years.

The idea for the column came to me all those years ago as a way to bring awareness to everyone that poverty can be found in any neighborhood.

When I would share with friends or visitors that I would find people living in desperate need, just blocks from the beautiful lakefront estates, I often was met with disbelief and shock.

I was knocking on doors finding people in the dark with utilities disconnected, empty refrigerators and cabinets, the elderly living in fear of what their life in poverty would bring next, children knowing the fear of poverty from listening to their mothers cry, the handicapped alone and lost living without basic needs met, all until our knock on the door.

At the time I began this column I had already been doing charity work anonymously for many years. It began with helping children and grandparents living in desperate poverty, helping the desperately poverty stricken handicapped that could not afford wheel chairs and other essentials and helping homeless mothers, children and senior citizens.

Having grown up in poverty I noticed the tell tale signs of poverty that so many innocently miss. My heart noticed the children without proper shoes and clothing, homes with plastic over the doors and windows ... I could feel the sorrow hidden with pride behind closed doors. There was a lack of awareness for many good hearted people who wanted to help.

My first columns were a little rough. I never claimed I was a writer. My true heart is and always has been philanthropy.

But my passion to share what I was seeing and experiencing nearly every day in our communities gave me the inspiration I needed to get the words out. Caring and sharing became a phrase and a way of life for many good people after they read about the true state of our poverty stricken handicapped, senior citizens, children and working poor families. I know I could never have done this alone.

So many churches, groups, organizations, teams, corporations, foundations, schools, businesses, families and individuals embraced me and our mission to help. Once they learned of what I was doing they gave The Time Is Now to Help the support it needed to grow and grow, to help and help.

It is hard to pick a favorite resolution or person helped. So many hugs and tears have been shared. Along with so many children allowed to grow up not experiencing homelessness or hunger. So many jobs spared due to our providing reliable transportation and gas.

So many senior citizens and disabled people with desperate medical conditions have been able to keep on their heat in the winter and AC during the hot days of summer due to your donations helping to pay their utility bills. The Time Is Now to Help has inspired many groups and organizations to help with the overwhelming need for our fellow creations, especially after they have seen firsthand how their own neighbors were helped.

The following is a synopsis of a few letters shared over the years.

Letter 171 — Dear WC,

I have been struggling for a long time, but I have gotten to the point where I have to give up my pride and ask for help. If you have time, would you please visit with me? I have had to choose between paying my utility bills or getting food. My electricity has been off for several weeks. I cry myself to sleep. I am a 72 year old widow and all alone. God Bless you for The Time Is Now to Help.

A neighbor in need

Dear readers,

This is another one of those times where we were able to step in and help someone who is truly deserving. She was trying so hard to make ends meet for so long, that this elderly woman was depriving herself of proper nutrition. This took a toll on her health. It seemed as if she got younger from the good nutritious food we supplied and getting our care. Proper nutrition is so important for everyone, yet so many seniors and children do not eat a well balanced diet due to the financial strain and trying to survive.

This woman never let on to what her financial position was. Her overall pride caused her to cry many times when we were together. I was very quick to console her.

I told her I was a friend coming to visit, and I was telling her how important it was for me to be there and have the opportunity to help, along with all of "you" who support The Time Is Now to Help.

She said, "I can't believe there are actually people out there who want to help." I asked her, "If you were in a position of helping, and someone asked you for help, would you do it?" She said, "Of course." I replied, "Well, that is exactly why we are here to help." She sat up and smiled, her heart lifting, she said, "Thank you so much for helping, and please thank everyone else for helping." ( I have cried with many as they shared their tears of relief when they realized we were there to help.)

Letter 104 —

I received a letter from a mother and father of a newborn. They informed me the father lost his job, due to the company downsizing and then relocating. The father has been looking for a job for over six weeks. He told me, "It's not easy to find a good job. Sometimes I feel like taking anything that comes along. If you calculate what you would actually earn at these jobs, you realize there is no way two adults and a child could survive on that low of an income. We assume these job openings are for single people or young people who still live at home with their parents." This is the working poor in America. Adults, families, trying to survive week to week with the pains of poverty so close and often hitting hard.

The landlord found out the father no longer had a job. The lease for this family was up, and the landlord refused to renew their lease. However, we were able to find a very kind and gracious couple, who owned an apartment building and offered them an opportunity to move in. The new landlords waived the security deposit, but the new tenants had to come up with the first month's rent.

I found out where the father worked. It turned out the father was being honest when he told me the company had downsized and relocated. The father told me he got a new job, and when I checked into it I discovered it was a good job. He had been there for three days, which was not enough to make the first month's rent.

I continued checking out the rest of the situation, as I do with all requests. This included my normal discussion about budgeting and priorities. The mother said, "We've been married for quite some time, but we were waiting to have a baby until we could financially handle it. We had no idea his old company was going to downsize, and this happened one week after our child was born."

We helped them in a few areas, including the first month's rent. They are now in a nice apartment, with a gracious husband and wife as their landlord. The baby needed some daily necessities, and they also needed a few household necessities.

These all were supplied thanks to your kind and generous support. After two months they were financially back on their feet. The mother wanted me to thank everyone supporting The Time Is Now to Help for seeing them through the hard times, restoring their lives and giving them hope. Thank you for caring and sharing.

2008 —

It is about 3 a.m. and I finally got home. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I know after I get some sleep, I will be ready to pour myself, both body and soul, into helping the needy again tomorrow. I thank everyone for their caring and sharing. I do love doing good works, but I have to admit emotionally it gets very draining to confront all the pain and suffering of poverty. Combined with pushing myself, I can feel the toll these past weeks have taken. Please Lord renew my strength. My dear friends, all of your prayers give me strength. God bless you.

If I could do nothing else but The Time is Now to Help, it would be a dream come true. I feel I am fulfilling my mission in life when I am assisting those in need. I am putting in long hours due to the brutal winter weather, and its effects on the poverty stricken.

If you do not have money for heat, or shelter, if you have a car that has no heat, or worse yet, no car and are required to walk to work, it is especially difficult. If the poverty stricken are lucky enough to have a car, probably half of those cars are in need of repairs.

The wipers might not work, windows might not operate or be broken, batteries that have been jumped for the past year or more and need to be replaced, often they are running on fumes hoping to get where they are going because they do not have money for gas. I often check tires only to find the treads smooth and unsafe. The poverty stricken that do not have any cars pray for transportation to get to work. Together, we make a big difference helping those in desperate need.

Along with our generous sharing, there are many referrals right now, more than any time of the year. A lot of people help by bringing those in need to our attention. That is what we are here for, to network the people in need to the right assistance. Often these referrals are the most desperate situations. The people we help often live in insufferable conditions until we come together and make a big difference in their lives. The verse, "Whatever you did unto the least, you did unto me" often is on my mind. Together, this is what we do, God's good works of compassion and love for one another.

When I did a visit today I noticed the springs in a couch were showing and there was only one twin bed, with old blankets, that several children were sharing. There was a dire lack of food, and many windows needed repair.

They had used pieces of wood and cardboard to fill in the broken panes of glass. After helping there I moved on to find an elderly widow who did not have much of anything.

She barely was keeping the heat going and set at a temperature where she had to wear her coat at all times. No car, no phone, no relatives or friends.

When I inquired into who comes to visit she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "Who would want to visit with me? Why would they want to?" As she looked away to cover her sadness, I reached out, hugged her and said "Well, I'm here with the support of many, many God-loving people." She returned the hug, saying, "You don't know how much this means."

For so many people we have been there to help. The amount of people we have assisted over the last 10 years alone is over 5,000. We do not like to keep count in numbers because each one of these people are individuals, with different needs, different solutions, but they all shared the same sense of relief and gratitude when we, all of "you" and The Time Is Now to Help, together share our loving compassion.

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.

Health and happiness,

God bless everyone,

W.C./Sal

Please Help: Make checks payable to:

The Time Is Now to Help

P.O. Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157

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 exactly what every penny of your donation provided for the poverty stricken.

My dear friends:

The W.C. Food Pantry needs your help. Due to the drought, food supplies have been scarce. Our communities have been very blessed by the dedication and hard work of Jim and Ardith Drescher, and the many volunteers that help to feed the hungry. At the end of this month the W.C. Food Pantry will lose its food storage at the Trostel warehouse. The Trostel storage facility was graciously donated by Trostel for many months, but now they are reopening their business. Jim Drescher has asked me to ask all of you to please network together to find a storage facility for the food. Presently the W.C. Food Pantry location has outgrown its facility. This is due to the great amount of people that are in need of food. If you know of any buildings that you think would be suitable please contact us. Thank you for your Caring and Sharing.

A special thank you:

Fox Charities, Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust, Ziegler Charitable Foundation, Paul Ziegler, Unilock, Kunes' Country Auto Group, Geneva Lake Development Corp., Leather Lip's Watersports, Dave and Sharon Flitcroft, Carolyn Flitcroft, Elkhorn Roofing Co., Randy Smith, Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Carolyn Gable/New Age Transportation/Expect A Miracle, First English Lutheran Church, Dave Hudec Law Office, Stinebrink's Piggly Wiggly, Mary Kay Ring, Peterson Drywall, Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Jennifer Dominski, Sherryl Gruetzmacher, Mary Jo Swayze, Frances Flucke, Ellen Flanagan, Toni Flickinger, Steve Thornton, Mary Cox, Wayne and Roberta Collamore, Michael Glass, Nancy Callewaert, William and Dorothy Tookey, Jean Zitzler, William and Ruth Rorig, Donald Lightfield, John and Dorothy McDermott, Sally Harper, Roberta Hunt, Brellenthin Family, George and Sandy Bootz, George and Nadine Kelm, Michael and Nancy McCabe, John and Violet Hotzfeld, Chris and Kelly Welch, Deborah Lenchard, Mary V. Fitzgerald, Patrick and Sherry Parrish, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God-loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries.