Sal column mug color

Dear W.C.,

I am writing to see if you can help my friend. We have been friends for over 40 years, since we were in middle school together. She has always been a hard worker and a good person to everyone she meets. She has suffered from kidney disease for many years and is on dialysis. Her husband had back surgery two months ago. He will not be able to return to work for another month. What they need help with the most is a reliable car to get my friend to her dialysis appointments, and eventually her husband to work. There is no public transportation where we live, and they have to travel far, as all the closer dialysis facilities are full. I would take her myself if I did not work full-time. Their present car has already left them stranded several times this winter, and their tires are so bad they can hardly drive anywhere with all the snow we have had. I know safe transportation would help them so much by removing the constant worry over my friend missing her dialysis appointments and her husband missing his doctor’s appointments.

Dear Readers,

We receive many requests for cars and car repairs each week. The lack of transportation in our communities is an ongoing problem, no matter the time of year, but certainly enhanced by the harsh winter weather we have been enduring. For some, the lack of transportation means job loss, and for others it makes medical care challenging or impossible. We only offer car repairs to those who are employed, so they can maintain their employment. Since this husband was going back to work, they would qualify for this assistance.

I called the friend who had written the letter of request. She was so happy to hear The Time Is Now to Help had read her letter, and was considering her friend for our assistance. She shared many wonderful stories about their friendship, and gave me many examples of what a good and caring person her friend was. She also told me what a hard worker the woman’s husband was, and how he had been employed for over 22 years at the same company. Providing poverty relief to good people who are in need is what we strive to do every day with our charity.

After speaking with the friend for some time, I confirmed her friend’s address and phone number so I could contact her directly. The friend told me she had not told her friend she was writing in her behalf until after she had sent the letter. The friend said: “I did not want her to talk me out of sending the letter. I know she is very humble and would not ask for help on her own. She is the kind that likes to help others — not the other way around.”

I replied: “Even I have had to learn how to accept help. I used to think I could do it all on my own, too.”

Now that I know I do not have to provide assistance to the hundreds of people who write to our charity each year all on my own — I have all of you there supporting our good works every step of the way — the stress of doing it all on my own is gone. I want all of our senior citizens, the handicapped, single mothers, children, veterans and working-poor families turning to us in desperate need to feel that same stress reduction and support I feel from all of you.

After ending my call with the friend, I made my next phone call to the woman in need of our assistance. She answered the phone tentatively, and after I introduced myself, soon we were talking like old friends. The woman was just as nice as her friend had told me. She shared with me her struggle with kidney disease and how it had affected her ability to safely have children. Her only child was a son who lived out of state. The pregnancy had been high-risk, and he had been delivered very premature due to her high blood pressure and kidney disease. The woman sadly shared her wish to have more children, but her inability to safely have them.

She said: “I don’t know why I feel I can tell you anything. I was so sick during my pregnancy 30 years ago, yet I still feel in my heart I was meant to have more children. I know if I would have been able to carry our daughter I lost after my son, I would feel more complete. She only lived a few minutes, and I barely survived that pregnancy. I have been having problems with my kidneys ever since then. Our son lives so far away and can barely support his own family. He just makes it month to month. I can’t burden him with our financial and health problems.”

We spoke about her relationship with her son, and she shared her sadness over their distant relationship. I said: “You need to be honest with your son and tell him what you are going through. He loves you and will help if he can.”

The woman replied: “He has his hands full with his wife and three children. I can’t ask him for help. I did not want to ask you for help. Then I found out my wonderful friend asked for me.”

The woman began to cry, and I asked her why she was crying. The woman answered: “I am so ashamed asking for help. My husband and I have worked hard our whole lives, even during times of sickness and trials. Yet here we are, not even senior citizens and we already are burdens. I don’t understand how that happened.”

I assured her they were not burdens, just good fellow Americans going through a difficult time. I told her about all of you and how you make The Time Is Now to Helps good works possible. I told her about our amazing volunteers who are willing to help when needed. Then I asked the woman what else was troubling her besides her car needing repairs and tires. I could tell there was something else she was not sharing with me besides her health difficulties and transportation worries — something she was too proud to tell me.

I could hear the woman pause, and then she asked: “How do you know I’m keeping something from you? We are talking for the first time, yet I feel you know me as well as my friend who wrote the letter to you. If you know me that well already, you know I can’t ask for help.”

I told her about the over 600 people we help each year, some in worse conditions than she and her husband. The woman said: “That is why I can’t ask. I know there are so many people who need more help than we do.”

I answered her: “You have not asked. I am offering because I know you are hurting. You need more than the car repair that we will have done as soon as possible. The tires that will help you get to your husband’s job and your dialysis are not the only thing that will end your stress and worry. Please tell me what else you need.”

With that, the woman began to cry again, and finally shared their struggle to pay their overdue mortgage and utilities. Her husband’s surgery had set them back much further than their small savings was able to cover. She even told me how they had cut back on food and other daily necessities just to try and pay their mortgage payment. I asked the woman for her payment amount and found her mortgage very reasonable; in fact, it was less than the rent for a two-bedroom apartment. It would not be in their best interest to let the house go to foreclosure. I made notes to pay three payments, to cover the overdue payment and two months to give them a chance to catch up once her husband went back to work. I also made notes to pay their overdue utilities and some into the future to provide a buffer for the next difficult month. After going over their car with her husband, I made arrangements to have their car repaired and have new tires put on. The husband, too, was brought to tears by our offer of generosity.

The woman and I spoke about her medical problems and her hopes for a kidney transplant in the future. We talked for so long I was surprised to see the time when I finally looked at my phone. We both again said how we felt like old friends and she said: “I hope to talk with you again soon. Please call me or stop by any time.”

I told her a volunteer would be stopping by to deliver her checks, along with some gift cards for food and daily necessities. She let me know when they would be gone for medical visits, so the volunteer would not miss them.

With many tears and much gratitude, the woman and I said our goodbyes. The following day, their car was being checked over and new tires were ordered. A volunteer delivered the much-needed assistance, and their home was saved from foreclosure. We removed the fear of utility disconnection with our assistance as well. The volunteer told me how the woman had hugged her and shared her gratitude several times before they could leave. The following week, the woman and her husband were in a much better state of mind due to removing the stress and fear of poverty. We received a lovely thank-you letter from both the friend and the woman, and her husband even wrote a special note of gratitude. This gratitude and thanksgiving is shared with all of you who made this assistance even possible. While this sweet woman waits for her hoped-for kidney transplant, we together have made her life much more comfortable and removed some of the stress that impending poverty was causing.

Thank you and God bless you for again being the instrument of positive change in our communities and in our world.

We have nearly finished matching the Family Foundation $30,000 Matching Grant. Your donations are being used 100 percent to provide poverty relief for children, senior citizens, veterans, the handicapped and working-poor families in our communities. Every dollar you donate will be matched by the Family Foundation, doubling your donation and doubling your help that removes the pains of poverty.

Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal