Sal column mug color

Dear W.C.,

You helped my grandmother when I was 12 years old, over 15 years ago. My mother had died and my sister and I were put in the care of our grandmother. It was a very difficult time that you made a lot easier for us. Our mother was not a good mother, and when we went to live with our grandma, we did not have any clothes that fit and we didn’t even have a bed.

I remember sleeping on the hard floor in a cold apartment while our mother was out every night. I remember being hungry and afraid. One day, she did not come home, and our grandma was finally able to take us in. She told me years later that she had tried to get custody of us when our mother was alive, but our mother had fought her on it because she wanted the child support payments.

Once you came to visit my grandma, things drastically changed for us. My sister and I had comfortable beds and clothes that fit. You helped our grandma get into an apartment that was a little bigger and that she could afford. We had enough food and no longer were afraid.

For years, I’ve wanted to thank you and tell you how much you changed our lives. In fact, I was so moved by what you did for us I made a decision to go into social work and have been working in this area for the past three years.

The reason I am writing is because I have clients living in a situation very similar to my own. A family of two children has been taken in by their grandmother, as their mother has been deemed unfit. I have worked with this unfit mother in the past, and she did not follow any of the guidelines we have given her. Now the grandmother is trying to find a bigger apartment outside of the 55-and-older complex she is living in.

The problem is she cannot come up with the first month’s rent and security deposit for a bigger apartment while paying all the other expenses that have arisen due to taking in the children, extra food, clothing, school supplies, etc. Please contact me so I may discuss this grandmother and children with you directly. I pray you are able to help this family like you helped us all those years ago. Thank you.

Dear Readers,

I read this letter and was very moved to hear how our assistance 15 years ago had made such a difference in a child’s life that she went into a vocation where she is also helping others. I was happy to know we had made a real change for these children and grandmother, and that they had been moved to help others as well.

The social worker answered her phone when I called, and I was again moved by her overwhelming gratitude for our past assistance. She said: “I was just a 12-year-old kid, yet you took the time to talk to my sister and I and my grandma. I remember you telling us to make sure we help our grandma, and we never forgot that. You also told us to work hard in school, and we listened to that, too. We never had a father in our lives, so your advice coming from a good man that cared really stuck with us. My younger sister is going to school to be a nurse, and still lives with our grandma. We have followed The Time Is Now to Help all these years. We were so excited over your CNN Hero award and the Realtor Good Neighbor award. Having been a recipient of your assistance, we know how it feels to be given a helping hand from your charity.”

I was glad to hear that both the sisters and the grandmother were doing well, and that our charity had made such a positive impact on their lives. That is the goal with everyone we help.

I asked the social worker about her clients. She confirmed she had received permission from them to share their personal information. We discussed the situation that was, indeed, very similar to the social worker’s own story. Two children were awarded custody to the grandmother due to their mother’s negligence. The grandmother was now struggling financially because of the many extra expenses. Her income could not pay for these new expenses in addition to an increase in rent and security deposit for a larger apartment.

The social worker and I discussed the difficult situation with the mother, and she shared the children’s relief when they finally were taken out of their mother’s care. Sometimes it is due to outright physical or other abuse of a child, and sometimes parental rights can be withdrawn due to neglect. This mother was neglectful to the point of not providing food, clothing or decent shelter, and even with the social worker’s intervention, she did not care to change her ways. The children had been living in a filthy, cold empty apartment for much too long, and were ready for the attention and love they would receive from their caring grandmother.

The social worker got the grandmother on the phone, and we all talked together for a long time. The grandmother cried profusely over her daughter’s neglect of her own children, but spoke fiercely in her vow to protect her grandchildren going forward. She had tried several times to take the children from her daughter, but had not been successful in the courts until her daughter’s recent home visit had revealed how neglected their living conditions and the children were.

The grandmother shared how she had gone to second-hand stores to get clothing that fit the children, but she still did not have beds or shoes for them. The social worker said: “This is so much like my own experience when I moved in with my grandmother. My sister and I had nothing, but The Time Is Now to Help made sure we had everything we needed.”

I asked about their food security, and the grandmother said she had visited the food pantry, but one of her grandchildren suffered from severe food allergies, so it made it difficult to obtain everything she needed to feed the children from there. As we talked, I made a list of items that the grandmother and grandchildren would need.

The social worker then asked the grandmother about her success in securing a new apartment. The grandmother told her she had found a two-bedroom apartment and shared the reasonable amount needed for first month’s rent and security deposit, adding: “It might as well be a million dollars, as I will never be able to come up with those funds. I am just using every penny to feed them and keep the electric on.”

I found the rent amount to be realistic, and asked the grandmother if she minded going over her expenses on the phone with us. She said she did not mind, so we proceeded to make a budget for her over the phone.

After reviewing all her income and expenses, the social worker confirmed the grandmother’s figures, stating she had seen all the grandmother’s documentation and these amounts were correct. We put together a budget they could successfully maintain once we gave them some initial assistance.

First, we would provide the first month’s rent and security deposit for the apartment, as the grandchildren were presently sleeping in the grandmother’s bed and she was sleeping on the couch in her one-bedroom senior apartment. The grandmother’s apartment complex had already given her a date she needed to be moved out by, as they did not allow children to live in her building. We also would bring her overdue utilities up to date to allow her to successfully put the utilities in her name at her new apartment. We would provide gift cards for food, toiletries, household necessities such as sheets and bedding for the children’s beds, additional towels, clothing and shoes.

The grandmother and social worker listened as I went over our plan for assistance — the assistance the social worker knew from firsthand experience would change their lives.

When I finished going over the list, both women were silent. I gave them a moment, as I knew the grandmother was probably overwhelmed and trying to process everything I had just told them. Then I heard the grandmother begin to cry. The social worker and I both consoled her as she shared the stress and worry over impending poverty she had been enduring since taking on the responsibility of her two grandchildren. The social worker said: “I never really thought about how my grandmother must have worried about how she was going to care for us. She always kept a smile on her face, even when it must have been so frightening for her. I have to thank you again, Sal, for everything you did not only for my sister and I, but also for my grandma.”

I told her: “If it wasn’t for our wonderful donors and volunteers, I would not have been able to help your grandmother back then or this family you brought to my attention now. Please share your gratitude with all of them, too.”

Both women thanked all of you and our volunteers for the assistance you allow us to provide.

The next week was a busy one for the grandmother and grandchildren, as they packed up her small apartment. On moving day, two beds were delivered and then were made up with new sheets, pillows and blankets. New towels and other household necessities were folded and put in the linen closet, and the grandmother’s few pieces of furniture were delivered. Additional furniture would be provided from a resale shop.

The grandmother was able to take the children shopping for shoes, jackets and school supplies. The next time I spoke to the grandmother, she not only shared her relief of stress from poverty, but also her enjoyment of life with two now-happy children. The grandmother shared the hardships they were working on overcoming together, the children’s fears and insecurities from years of neglect. These were improving every day in their new clean, healthy, loving environment — a healthy, loving environment provided by all of us working together to bring about a positive change in the lives of children that hopefully will carry forward into their future as well.

Thank you and God bless you for making this and all our assistance possible.

Please donate to our matching grant opportunity, the 2019 Barnabas $88,420 Matching Grant. Again Barnabas has come to us inspired to help many fellow creations living in poverty. We are so excited for this matching grant and the poverty relief it is already providing. Our hopes and prayers are that you will take this opportunity to donate knowing every dollar of your donation will be matched by the amazing Barnabas donors, doubling your donations. As always every penny of this matching grant will be used to provide poverty relief.

Together we are doing the good works of our Lord, helping our fellow creations, removing the pains of poverty. Together we have helped more than 500 people each year — people suffering due to job loss, lack of transportation, illness and other tragedies of life that result in 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