I am hoping you will be able to help my fiancé and me. We are both in our early 60s, and were both working until recently. I began to have problems with my knees last year, and had to have my first knee replaced three months ago. I am still in pain and will need to have my second knee replaced, too. This has kept me from work over the past three months because I am barely able to walk and must use a cane. During this time, I gave up my car because I could no longer make the payments and insurance. We thought we would be fine with just my fiancé’s car, but unfortunately as soon as we sold mine, his began to have problems. My fiancé has been at his job for the past 18 years, and would hate to lose his job due to his inability to get to work. We also need his car for all my medical appointments. We are falling further and further behind in our bills, due to paying for car repairs and medical bills. The mechanic told us his car is not worth putting any more money into, but we cannot afford another car right now. Our rent and utilities are overdue. I feel so bad being the reason we are going through this hardship right now.
For many people, the last few years until retirement can be the most difficult. Some people begin to suffer from painful conditions that are usually the bane of senior citizens, but manifest themselves years earlier. Your body really doesn’t know the difference between 60 and 65, but your budget sure will. If the pain is too great, these people have to make the choice of undergoing surgery and taking off an extended time at work causing loss of pay. Not everyone is eligible for disability and workmen’s comp.
For many, the medications are not enough to allow them to live pain free, and to function at jobs and in other areas of life. This can lead to financial hardship before they even begin their retirement years.
This woman and her fiancé were struggling already, and they still had four years until full retirement age. That is a long time to not have any income, and to pay even a portion of expensive medical procedures. After we did our preliminary investigation into their situation, I decided to pay a visit to this woman and her fiancé.
I arrived at the apartment the next day. After introducing ourselves, we sat down to talk. I watched as the woman painfully used a cane to get around and even more painfully lowered herself into a chair. The woman showed me her knee, and I could clearly see the incision scar. She said: “This knee is now my good one. I can hardly walk on the leg that hasn’t been operated on yet.”
I remembered all the years of watching my own mother’s struggles with painful arthritis and multiple joint-replacement surgeries. I clearly remember the painful but necessary rehabilitation she endured. I also remember the many medications they had tried before her surgeries, and the terrible side effects she had with them. She had not been able to live her best life for years, and if I had not been able to help her pay her bills, she would have been suffering in poverty as well.
The woman and I talked for a while, and I learned her fiancé was still at work, even though it was 7 p.m., having taken on an additional shift to help with their mounting debt. I kept making notes on a pad of paper, and the woman finally asked, “What do you keep writing down?” I showed her my notes and answered: “This is how I keep everything organized. When you help so many people a year, it can be difficult to remember all the details, so I write everything down.”
The woman read my notes I had written about her, and said, “That is a pretty good assessment so far.” I also use these notes when I get back to my office to remind me of any phone calls I need to make, areas of concern I need to follow up with, checks that need to be written, and also to write this column so I do not forget all the details of my visit.
I asked the woman if she minded if I took a brief look around her apartment, and she said with a smile, “Of course I don’t. It is small, so you won’t be gone long.”
After looking into their one bedroom and a quick look into her refrigerator and cabinets, I was back in a minute. The woman said, “I told you it wouldn’t take long.” I was relieved to see they at least had sufficient food. When I asked about their food supply, she said: “My fiancé and I always cook all our own food. He packs his own lunch every day, too. It is a big savings and much healthier for us. My fiancé is even good at shopping the sales and buying just what is on my list when I cannot do the shopping.”
I was happy to hear about their commitment to eating at home. I encourage everyone we provide assistance for to try and make home-cooked meals, exercise if possible, and to eat healthy, as keeping your health is one of the best ways to prevent future poverty risk.
We moved on to talking about their budget. The woman slowly and painfully tried to get out of her chair. I offered to help or to get what she needed, but she said: “I need to get up and move a little anyway. It is not good to sit for too long.”
She slowly made her way to where she kept her bills and invoices. She gathered her paperwork and came back to the table. I looked through her overdue bills, and wrote down amounts and account numbers needed for payment. When I was through with that, I wrote down their income and expenses, clearly seeing where the car repair bills and medical bills had taken a toll on their budget. It also was clear when the woman had gone in for her surgery and her income had stopped, it had also taken a toll. I gave her some suggestions on other assistance to apply for, and she, too, took notes.
Just as we were finishing our conversation on their financial state, we heard a key in the door, and in walked her fiancé. He came in with a smile and a handshake when the woman introduced us. I noticed how happy they were to see each other as he bent over to give the woman a kiss, and I finally saw a smile on the woman’s face. I couldn’t help but comment on this, and they both laughed. The man said: “We may have met each other later in life, but I still feel it was meant to be. This woman is the love of my life.”
I watched as tears came to the woman’s eyes and she reached over to take his hand. I asked, “When do you plan on getting married?” The woman said: “Once my other knee is fixed. I do not want to walk down the aisle with a cane or wincing in pain.”
I asked about any other family they may have that would be at the wedding, and they both told me they did not have any children, and very little family left.
After talking about their modest wedding plans, I asked the man about his car. He asked me if I would like to take a look, and I said I would. We walked outside together, and after noting the body condition and the amount of miles, I was in agreement with their mechanic. The car was not worth any more expensive repairs.
We were very lucky to have recently received a donation of a car that would be an excellent reliable vehicle for this man to get to his desperately needed job, and the woman to get to her needed medical care. When I asked the man how he felt about replacing his old car, he answered, “Oh, we can’t afford another car. It would be impossible for us right now financially.”
Since he misunderstood, I clarified.
“How would you feel about replacing it with a car that was recently donated to our charity?” I saw the understanding in his face then, and he quickly asked, “Is your charity giving us a car?” I confirmed we were. The man had tears come to his eyes as he said: “I don’t know how to even thank you for something like that. I’ve never asked for help my whole life. I think I need to give you a hug.”
The man reached over and gave me a hug as he wiped away his tears, saying: “You don’t know how much this means to us. This car has been causing all my stress and worry. This car is the reason we can’t even pay our rent right now. If you give us a car, we will be so much better.”
He was going to keep going but I interrupted him, saying, “A simple thank you will do fine.”
The man laughed and hugged me again, saying, “Thank you, and thank those people who donated a car.”
When we went back inside, the woman was up and walking slowly around the apartment. He rushed to her side and hugged her as he told her about the donated car they would be receiving. The woman looked surprised as she, too, asked, “You’re giving us a car?”
Her fiancé excitedly told her about the donated car, and they both then hugged each other and cried. I asked the couple if they would like to hear the rest of the assistance they would be receiving. They both asked, “There is more than the car?” I told them how my evaluation found they would need to get caught up with their rent and utilities if they were ever going to get out of the debt they were in.
I said: “If I give you a car, it will just be a Band-Aid. You will never be able to catch up on everything with just one paycheck right now.”
I read off the assistance, including the overdue rent and the next month’s rent to allow them to catch up on their other obligations, their overdue utility bill, gas gift cards to help with the expense of multiple doctors’ visits in Milwaukee, and even a grocery gift card to help them to continue to eat healthy at home.
The man and woman both sat in silence for a moment as they took in all I had told them. The woman’s voice cracked as she said: “I never even dreamed someone could help us like this. When I read about you I thought it was too good to be true. Now I know it was not. God bless you.”
I gave them further advice on their budget, including making their main obligation be their rent, food, utilities and maintaining a good running car to continue employment. After that, they see what they have left and they make a nominal medical bill payment.
I took that opportunity to tell them about all of you who make our charity work possible. When I finished telling them about your generous support, they both hugged me goodbye, as I had to be on my way to the next visit.
The following week, the donated car was ready to be put to good use by the man for his daily commutes to work. The woman was especially grateful, as she had scheduled her second knee surgery and knew that would mean many trips to doctors and rehabilitation. The woman also added: “Since you asked me when we plan on getting married, I decided I don’t want to wait any longer to marry this man. I am going to use that as my motivation to recover even faster than after my last knee surgery.”
I congratulated them and also told the woman we would be praying for a speedy recovery. A recovery made easier, thanks to your support that helped remove their pains and stress of poverty.
Our mission to provide poverty relief to our fellow creations in need is a reality, thanks to all of us coming together to change these lives together. We together make all this possible. I began The Time Is Now to Help 30 years ago, and for many years did these good works on my own, but now I am so blessed to have all of you behind everything we do together. As we daily continue to receive requests for assistance, we together will continue to do the good works of our Lord helping our fellow creations, removing the pains of poverty. Thank you and God bless you for all we accomplish together to ease the pains of poverty.
Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal
Please help: There are many coming to us in desperation. Our good fellow creations need our compassion. Together we make a big difference. 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©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: Barnabas Donors, Rhoades Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, Paul Ziegler, Ziegler Charitable Foundation, Kunes Country Auto Group, Kune’s Family Foundation, Lake Geneva Area Realty, The Harold and Bernice De Weerd Family Foundation, The Premium Package, The Dan & Donna Casey Family Charitable Fund, Dick and Jean Honeyager, The Sowers House, Michael Glass, Kathleen Gallagher, Rendall Family Foundation, Avis Luchsinger, Kelleher Family LLC, John and Mary Beer, Joseph and Beth Pizzo, Thomas and Mary Lyons, Peterson Drywall and Robert Klaus.
Honoraries: Kathryn Rodgers in celebration of Richard Driehaus’ birthday. Ron and Carolyn Bloch in honor of their cousin Joyce Cogil’s Birthday.
Memorials: Sally Rayner in memory of her husband Lawrence Rayner Jr. Cynthia Deacon in memory of Marilynn Dyer.
Prayer chain: The power of prayer and positive thoughts comes from the true healer, our Lord answering our prayers. Please pray for healing for the following people: Talyn, Mike, Susan, Sylvia, Richard, Jennifer, Jayden, Maria C., Alex, Lily, Kaitlyn, Sheila, Rhonda, Deda Lee, Marilyn, Helen, Dennis, Mary, Joseph, Sal, Jordan, Jean, Tom L., Arabelle J., Dr. Peter and Alyce.
Please visit: www.timeisnowtohelp.org