I am writing you a letter to see if you can help my friend’s family. We are both in our junior year of high school. Even though we have been friends for two years since I moved here, she has never had me to her house before. She always said her father was too sick. He has been fighting cancer for as long as I have known my friend. A few days ago, I stopped by unexpectedly to drop off her homework when she was sick, and I could see how embarrassed she was. It was a cold day, and I was surprised they all had coats on inside. She told me their furnace is broken, and they do not have heat. I have no idea how long they have been living without heat. I follow your organization and remember how you said there are signs of poverty if you look. I think I saw those signs at my friend’s house. She only let me in the front door for a minute, but I could tell they are having a hard time. I know her mom works, but my friend told me how her mom has had to take off a lot of time at work to take care of her dad when she’s at school. I have been thinking back over the past two months, and remember a lot of times when my friend was so hungry at school she could hardly wait for her lunch. I am worried about them, now that I have seen what they are going through. I told my friend I was going to write a letter to you, and when I did, she cried. I asked her if it was okay to send the letter, and she told me it was. I know they must really be struggling if she agreed to let me send this letter, because she has never asked for help before. Can you please check in on her family?
The young lady who wrote the letter requesting assistance for her friend’s family had provided me with phone numbers and their address. While I was saddened to hear about the difficulties this family was going through, I was relieved this caring and thoughtful friend had followed my advice from previous columns about observing the signs of poverty. They often are all around us, yet we do not notice. At least she had not noticed too late for this family.
I arrived to find a home that looked like it may need more than just a furnace. The front door was cracked, and there were indeed other signs of poverty as I knocked. In a moment, the door was opened by a young woman. I asked if her mother was available, and she asked me to wait a moment. She took a look at me when she was closing the door, and then opened it again, asking, “Are you the person from The Time Is Now to Help my friend told me could be stopping by?” I answered, “Yes I am.”
The girl said: “I wasn’t sure you would come. I didn’t even know about you until my friend showed me your website and Facebook page. Please wait a minute while I get my Mom.”
I told her that would be fine, and waited for less than a minute before her mom appeared.
I showed the woman my identification, and she introduced herself as the girl’s mother. She told me how her daughter had told her about the friend’s letter. The mother said, “I was embarrassed and upset at first, because we try so hard to hide what we are going through.”
The woman invited me inside and introduced me to her husband. He was lying on the couch and looked very frail and sickly, covered in blankets, as it was indeed cool inside. I asked about the heat, and the husband told me how the furnace had not been working right for a few weeks, and then quit altogether a week earlier. I was surprised, as a week was a long time to go without heat. The husband said they had set up some portable heaters they had borrowed from a neighbor that kept the house at the uncomfortably cool temp, but at least it was warmer than outside.
I looked around the small home, and just as the friend had said, I, too, saw other signs of poverty. The ceiling sagged from a water leak. The faucet was dripping in the kitchen. The husband noticed me looking at the damage in his home and looked embarrassed. He finally said: “I used to be able to keep up with all these repairs. Now I’m too sick, and we can’t afford to pay someone to do them.”
Just by looking at the man, I could tell he was too sick to take on any of these projects. I pulled out my pad of paper and began to write down everything I saw. I took pictures with my phone so I could share them with some trusted repairmen to get a preliminary quote.
The mother and daughter sat down next to the father on the couch and gave me the only other chair in the room so we could talk. I explained to all of them about The Time Is Now to Help and how our poverty relief program works. I told them that I would need to ask them many questions about their budget and finances. They agreed to answer these questions and provide any documents I may need to determine the best course of action to get them back on track.
While the wife went to get her bills and other documents, I talked with the daughter and husband. The daughter was very devoted to her father, and I watched as she arranged his pillow and blanket in an effort to keep him comfortable. The father looked at me and said: “Even though I don’t have much time left, I am still a blessed man to have two such wonderful women that love me and help me. Even though we lack in other areas, at least we have each other.”
The daughter looked sad as she said, “Yes, we are blessed to have each other.” I could see the fear of the unknown and what they were going through on her face, but she quickly turned her head away so her father did not see the sadness.
The mother returned with a stack of papers, and we began to go over their budget. The father had not been able to work for the past year. Their income had been drastically reduced when he could no longer do his carpentry work. The mother worked, but had missed many days over the past few months due to her husband’s medical appointments, surgery and treatments. The daughter told me how she stayed with her father in the afternoons after school while her mother was at work. While going over the budget, I could see the monthly struggle to pay their mortgage. It was a reasonable amount, and finding a rental would not be in their best interests.
The first thing I did was call for a furnace repair. When hearing how they had been living without heat, the caring repairman said he would be over ASAP after finishing his last service call. I walked around the home and saw a few other needed repairs, and added them to the list. I looked into the refrigerator, and while there was some food, it was mostly condiments and canned goods. After seeing their food insecurity and remembering the friend’s comment about the young lady’s hunger at school, I handed the mother some gift cards for food, toiletries and other daily necessities. Knowing they could barely afford food, they surely would not be able to afford other personal hygiene items.
By this time, the husband was very tired. I could see the fatigue and so could his daughter. She went to his side and helped him get to his bed in the next room. The daughter came back in the room, and I could see the tears she was holding in. I asked if everything was okay, and she shook her head no. She wiped at her eyes and said: “It is hard to see my dad so weak. He was the one who always took care of me.”
The girl was understandably very upset, so she excused herself to her room. Once the daughter was gone, the mother said: “Our daughter is having a hard time with this. The doctor told us last week that he only has a few months left. He has really tried so hard to beat this, but it has spread. This all happened at the same time as our furnace. It’s just been so much.”
Now the mother was trying to hold back her own tears. I knew this would be a tough visit, but it was even harder than I had imagined.
We talked about her plans for the future, and what we could do to help them during this incredibly difficult time. The mother just shook her head and said: “There is nothing anyone can do to make losing my husband any easier. If you can just help with the furnace and maybe some food, it would make my husband and daughter much more comfortable. That would be a huge help.”
I showed the mother the list I had made in addition to the furnace repair; I had added the ceiling and roof repair, the front door repair, help with their mortgage, and utilities to ease the daily financial strain. I also had added a new bed to the list, as I had noticed the parents sagging bed when I had walked around the home. The mother asked, “You can do all this for us?” I answered, “Yes, I can, thanks to our wonderful generous donors.”
After thoroughly reviewing their assistance, I told the woman she would be contacted by volunteers and several other repair people. I said my goodbyes, and the daughter came out of her room to thank me and say goodbye as well. I watched as the mother and daughter tearfully hugged each other as I walked out the door.
That evening, the family finally had heat. They also had a hot meal dropped off by a caring volunteer. Later that week, a new bed was delivered for the husband and wife, and the wife called me immediately so her husband could tell me how much more comfortable he was on the new bed. The remaining repairs happened over the following week. The husband’s last three months of his life were made comfortable thanks to all of you. Also thanks to all of you, the wife and daughter can continue to live in their home comfortably.
Thank you and God bless you for allowing us to provide this assistance that was so kindly brought to our attention by a young lady who took the time to notice their signs of poverty.
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 new matching grant and the poverty relief it will provide. 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 over 500 people each year, people suffering due to job loss, lack of transportation, illness and other tragedies of life that result in poverty.
Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal