Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Living in dilapidated trailer

by Sal Dimiceli

September 26, 2013

Dear W.C.,

It has been hard to get by the last few months. I am a senior citizen trying to live on my social security.

 I had a little saved for retirement but that was used to care for my husband when he was sick and then for his funeral when he died. I have gotten by for a few years since his death, but now find myself unable to pay my utility bills.

 I needed to buy new glasses. I tried to get by without new glasses for several years but then could not pass my driver’s test. In order to keep my license I had to get new glasses.

My car is in need of repairs I cannot afford. I also had to keep my air conditioning on this summer due to my health problems.

Even with keeping the a/c at a higher temperature it caused me to have a much higher utility bill than I could afford. I have struggled through some hard times in my life but this is the first time I have had to ask someone else for help. I am afraid and ashamed.

Frightened widow

Dear readers,

Again I found myself knocking on the door of a trailer in dilapidated condition.

 I had hoped to find this senior citizen in better living conditions. I could see why her a/c costs were high. The trailer would be leaking a/c and heat out of every old window and boarded up hole. Many senior citizens continue to live in trailers they bought years ago, long past the life expectancy for these homes. Now they are living in almost uninhabitable dwellings, with plumbing, electrical and structural repairs required.

The door was answered by an elderly woman I assumed was the letter writer. After introductions and identification was verified, we sat to talk in her very old kitchen.

 The floor sloped, there was a bucket in the middle of the room collecting water from a large roof leak. I immediately addressed her living conditions. She looked ashamed and tearful. I told her it was nothing to be ashamed of. It was something we could work on together. As I have not seen the value in putting a lot of money into repairing an older trailer, I knew we would have to find suitable, affordable senior housing.

 The senior woman said, “I did not have enough money to make any repairs to this trailer. All the savings my dear husband had hoped to leave for me to care for myself when he was gone, went to pay his medical bills and funeral.”

“I only get enough money from social security to pay my lot rent, food, gas and utilities. Now that I had to get glasses I do not even have enough for my utilities.”

We went over all her monthly bills. After sharing her financial worries with me she began to cry. I comforted her and reassured her we would help her get back on her feet again.

After going over her expenses, and looking around both her trailer and her car, I could see she would be able to afford a reasonable apartment in senior housing. The utilities would be lower and she would have a much better quality of life. Hauling buckets of water, mold, drafts and non working appliances was not how I like to see anyone live, but it is even harder on a senior citizen. I asked the woman how she felt about moving. She seemed upset about leaving the dilapidated home she had once shared with her beloved husband.

She started to cry again. She had no family, no children. Those of us who have family, loved ones, friends, people that care about us, may find it hard to understand the loneliness this poor widow was living in. I stayed with her for several hours. She needed this time. She needed to know we were sincere about improving her life.

 I pointed out my concerns, knowing she was aware of them, and convincing her she deserved and could afford to live a better quality of life in her senior years. She agreed it would be for the best. She even seemed relieved after getting accustomed to the idea of leaving the broken down trailer behind. We went over some low-income senior apartments I knew may have a rent she could afford. I told her I would call to see what was available.

We went over the quote for repairs needed on her car. It was in need of more work than it was worth. The car had been her husband’s, but there had been no maintenance on it since well before he passed away over three years ago. The tires were bald, the a/c and heat barely worked and it had several serious mechanical problems.

We had recently received a donated vehicle that was restored to perfect working order and ready for her to drive safely. We arranged for a trip to the DMV to transfer the title and register the vehicle in her name.

There were many tears over the course of her life changing move and vehicle swap. The senior woman had many wonderful memories of her life spent with her husband in both the trailer and the car. I comforted her when she needed it and other times I was strong when she needed to be reminded of the importance of these changes.

 At my last visit she grasped me in a strong hug and said, “You make sure you thank all those good people that made all your help possible. I’m sorry I was stubborn at times about moving. I do not have to worry about how I am going to cook my food or carry buckets of water to flush my toilet. I forgot what it was like to live and be happy. I even made friends here that are my age. This was all possible because of The Time Is Now to Help.” She broke down in tears, grasping my hand. These were tears of relief that together, you and I made possible.

I am grateful for all the help you have provided that not only made assistance to this senior woman possible, but to all the poverty stricken senior citizens, handicapped, children and working poor families turning to us for assistance. We have made a real difference in the lives of these fellow creations. Together, we will continue to replace the fear, pain and suffering of poverty, with compassion, healing.

We have begun our Richard Dreihaus $30,000 Matching Grant. Every dollar you donate will be matched by another, doubling your help to our fellow creations in desperate need.

Health and happiness,

God bless everyone,


Mailing address

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.


James and Lynne Newman Foundation, Whiting Law Group, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Pentair Foundation, Kunes’ Country Chevrolet-Cadillac, Fox Charities, Paul Ziegler, Lake Geneva School of Cooking, Chef John Bogan, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Jeff Martin, J B Wire Service, Martin Group, John Stensland and Family, Barbara Spiegelhoff, Kimberly Clark Foundation, ITW Foundation, Gerald Lins, Michael Glass, Rosemarie Reiherzer, John and Joyce Kirkwood, Joanne Zeasman, Randall and Margaret Smith, James and Karen Goodrick, Erik Gustafson, Carolyn May Essel, Dr. John and Pamela Ryall, Barbara Kufalk, George and Lauretta Clettenberg, Beverly Benavides, Florence Merkin, Patricia Jankowski, Julie Larson and Elkhorn and Delavan Jazzercise Group Rummage Sale, Black Hawk Community Credit Union Jeans Day for Charity, Ellen Flanagan, Milton and Carol Ann Ancevic, EZ Beaches, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God-loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries.

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


Nancy B., Nancy D., Ruth, Carole, Floyd and Cindy, “The Boy” and Laura, Marilyn and Greg and Elaine in honor of Barbara Giovanonni’s Birthday. Memorials: Richard and Elizabeth Czaja in memory of their dear friend Effie Emerson. Clarita Abell, family and friends in memory of Wally Abell. Furniture Donations: Please contact us direct for any furniture, appliance or any item donations (262) 249-7000.

If you would like to donate your items to The Time Is Now to Help please email,  message us on or call (262) 249-7000.

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