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Dear W.C.,

I recently visited a family member I haven’t seen in three years. She is my cousin, and she lives four hours from our area. I was shocked to find her living in terrible conditions. She has a disabled daughter she cares for full-time. From what she told me, she receives some assistance, but it obviously is not enough to keep them out of poverty.

The home she rents is rundown and not very accessible for her daughter’s wheelchair. Her landlord refuses to ever fix anything. Her wheelchair accessible van is in need of repairs, and I think they do not have enough food sometimes. I spent just a few hours with my cousin and her daughter, and was overwhelmed. I can only imagine what it must be like for them to live like that every day.

When I left, I promised her I would help her move to my area so I could help them and she will have more resources and family nearby. My aunt used to live with her, but she passed away six months ago. I think once she no longer had help from her mother, she could not keep up, and now they are all alone. I do not have the financial means to help them, but I am willing to help them in other ways. I would be so grateful if you could help my cousin and her daughter move here and hopefully out of poverty.

Dear Readers,

I called the woman who wrote this letter requesting assistance for her cousin. We spoke for some time, and she revealed even more information about her cousin and her cousin’s daughter that had me concerned for their well being. The woman sent me some photos of her cousin’s living conditions, and they were indeed distressing. I saw the water-damaged ceilings, buckets to collect water, holes in the floor and a rotted steep wheelchair ramp.

The woman provided me her cousin’s full name, address and telephone number so I could complete our own investigation into the situation. Since the cousin lived so far away, I would have to call her to learn even more.

I called the cousin immediately, and once she heard who was calling, she said, “You must be from that organization my cousin was telling me about when she visited last week.”

I confirmed I was. She was reserved at first, but after I told her about our charity and shared some examples of how we help, she began to open up. At first we talked about her cousin, and she explained why they hadn’t seen each other in so long. Her wheelchair-accessible van was unreliable, and she did not have the funds for gas for such a long drive. The woman who wrote the letter had a demanding job and three young children, so it wasn’t always easy for her to travel so far lately, either. They had just fallen out of touch after years of being close.

I asked the woman why she had not asked her cousin for help sooner, and she answered: “I know she is struggling to get by, too. I couldn’t ask her for help, because I know she would give it and go through hardship herself before telling me no. She has always been a generous selfless person.”

I then asked the woman about her daughter, and she shared with me the details of her multiple disabilities. She had been born premature, and should have been born at a hospital that could handle such complications, but sadly had not. Her daughter had suffered oxygen deprivation that resulted in cerebral palsy and epilepsy. These conditions have resulted in years of full-time care for the woman, as her daughter was now 20 years old.

The woman told me how her husband had not been able to handle the around-the-clock care she had required as an infant and toddler. He had paid child support until she was of age, but now that she no longer received child support and lost the help her mother provided each month, she had fallen further and further behind. The woman admitted her utilities would have been disconnected a long time ago if it was not for her daughter’s disabilities that prevented disconnection as long as she is on a payment plan.

She struggled each month to pay her rent, insurance, food and utility payment plan. She also struggled to keep her phone from disconnection, because she needed her phone for emergency purposes. The woman said: “There are times I need to call the paramedics if my daughter is having a bad seizure or stops breathing. I know how to handle most emergencies, and I try not to call them, but I need my phone just in case.”

The woman told me about her extended family that lived in our area and her wish to move here so she could have the relief of her family’s help sometimes. From what I heard from both the women, their family wanted to help in any way they could, but they just could not help financially. I thought about this woman all alone so far from her family. For years she had been lucky to have her mother living with her and sharing the around-the-clock care of her disabled daughter. Since the unexpected death of her mother, these two women had been alone.

I asked the woman to send me pictures of her bills, and I reviewed them. Her landlord had threatened eviction but not followed through, since the home was in such poor shape. I asked the woman if she could get out of her lease, and she stated that they had three months left on her lease. I could not leave this woman and her handicapped daughter in the mold-filled, dilapidated home for another three months. I told the woman I would be looking for an apartment near her cousin that would be both reasonable and accessible, if she was willing to move.

The woman began to cry and said: “It is all I want for my daughter and me. I feel so bad that my daughter has to live in this home, and I know it is not good for her health, either. The thought of finally having my family near me is like a dream come true.”

We then spoke about the woman’s wheelchair-accessible van. From what she told me, it was definitely in need of repairs. I asked her if she thought it would be able to make the drive here, and she said she would be comfortable driving it, since her cousin would be following her back, since she had already offered to help her pack and move. I would set up a thorough review of her vehicle as soon as she moved here.

After talking on the phone for over an hour, I went over the areas of assistance we would be providing. I had added a conversation with her landlord to the list to let him know this woman and her daughter would no longer be living in his awful home with a total lack of maintenance. I would also be asking for a refund of her security deposit, but I did not expect it to happen, since she owed back rent. I would rather her not have an eviction on her record so she could eventually move into an apartment that accepted housing assistance. For now I would look for an apartment that would allow them to live in a clean, safe, accessible environment. The woman was surprised by the help we were going to provide.

She was again crying when she said: “My cousin told me about your charity, but I never thought you would be able to get me out of this situation we are in. I thought we would be stuck here for years.”

It took three weeks to finally move the woman and her disabled daughter to our area. It was difficult, due to the distance, but just like the woman said, her family was all willing to help. They drove together to her home and helped pack their belongings. Many of their items were old and worn or just too damaged due to water and mold. These we replaced with new beds and used furniture. New sheets, blankets and pillows were provided. Gift cards for groceries had been sent express mail, so they could eat properly while they waited to move. Gas gift cards were also sent to both women so they could afford to drive the long distance.

An apartment was found that was both affordable and accessible. The move was distressing for the disabled daughter, but once they were settled in their new clean environment, her health and behavior actually began to improve.

Thanks to all of you and this woman’s extended family, the two women are now living a much improved life. They have enough food each month, the wheelchair-accessible van is repaired and safe, and the woman has the support of her family if she needs it. The months of living on their own in a dilapidated home had taken a toll on the woman, but now she was feeling overwhelming relief, thanks to her family and all of us who worked together to make their move happen.

God bless you for your support that makes all our good works happen.

Every day we receive requests for our assistance. In many communities there is no or little assistance for those living in the pains of poverty. People of every age are suffering in silence as they live without proper shelter, food, utilities and other daily necessities.

Thank you and God bless you for all we accomplish together to ease these 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, Delavan United Methodist Church, Dorothy Tookey, Michael Glass, Judy Dishneau, Carol Hinners, George and Lauretta Clettenberg, Badger Hardwoods of Wisconsin, Stanley Roelker, Anthony and Ruth Davis, Lauren Asplund, Mildred Thorson, Gene and Janet Krauklis, Hedwig Spaight, Wallie Leitzke, Nancy Ferguson, James and Constance Van Patten, William and Jean Isaacson, and Denise Hubbard.

Memorials: Sally Rayner in memory of her husband Lawrence Rayner Jr. The following donations were given in memory of Marilynn Dyer: Patricia Dickinson Olson, David and Kimberly Upton, Roland and Madeline Schroeder, Nancy Egezeino, Keven Engelien and Jennifer Foerster-Engelien, Curt and Susan Duchow, Nichole Cooper and Edith Hanzel. Peggy Cardiff in memory of Juanita Grady. Mary Anne Matula in memory of Paul Matula.

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