Friday, February 8, 2008

The Widows

On Saturday a couple of the ladies living in the park behind us held an indoor yard sale. I found that kinda strange for in the middle of the winter and my curiousity got the best of me so right after the rush, I went back to see what was up. I had also gotten quite a kick out of their sign that they had placed out on the road. It read "Indoor yard sale inside".

Two sweet ladies were running the sale and I saw the usual tables full of stuff that I probably would never use but over in the corner was a piece of exercise equipment that Judy and I had looked at at the store just the day before.

In striking up a conversation with the two ladies, I asked the obvious. Why this in the middle of the winter. After all, they would have to drag stuff out of storage and with all of the snow around, packing it down to the hall hand to be a chore.

"We are trying to raise money to pay for our electric bills in the winter.", came the reply. Now they had my attention. You see, I never realized that any of the people in the park could be struggling like this. Especially since the space rent on their places was the best in town and will not go up as long as they stay there.

The plight of one particular lady hit me the most. She is nearly 90 and living on $600 social security per month. Her heating bill in her old trailer the month before was $200. This proud lady who had lost her husband decades ago and who had kept her head up all these years was now struggling to survive. She was actually one of the ladies running the sale and the other lady told me her story as a couple kept her busy on the other side of the room.

I wasn't sure what to do but knew right then and there that something had to be done. While I looked at Judy's potential purchase thinking more of their plight then the condition of the equipment, the older lady walked over to the kitchen to get the chicken sandwich that she had made for the two ladies to share for lunch. She let out a giggle and brought over a bag with two slices of bread to her friend. "I cant believe that I forgot the chicken!", she laughed, "But at least we have some bread to share!"

I told them both that I needed to get Judy and I would be right back. I walked back over to the diner and got a couple of portions of turkey breast and told Judy of the equipment that she needed to look at. On the way over to the hall, I filled her in on the story. I handed the turkey breast to the ladies and they gleefully went to the kitchen to prepare their lunch while Judy and I looked at the equipment that I was already prepared to buy no matter what the condition. It was nearly new, Judy loved it and we made the purchase. We then moved on to an indoor bike that was across the room.

After purchasing the bikes, I began to flash out ideas to the ladies. I got the telephone number of one of the ladies and promised my help but also letting them know that I was really not sure what kind of help that I would or could be. I assured them that I would try to do something.

I first talked with my friend, Mike Schmidt from the chamber who usually is in on Sunday mornings for breakfast. Mike said that he was meeting with someone from Pacific Power the next week and that he would mention it to them to see what kind of programs that are available. I knew that Mike would be diligent and get back to me.

I then met with my other friend, Richard Smith, who used to be the construction supervisor for Habitat for Humanity. Richard and I along with my buddy, Frank had been the foundation of our poker tourney on Monday's that we coined "Holdem for Habitat". Richard has friends in the construction industry and I asked him to talk with some of them and see what kind of ideas we could come up with.

Lastly, I stood up at the beguinning of Monday's tourney and proposed to everyones agreement to turn over the first Monday's winnings of every winter month to go towards this problem. After all, the money would be going to the same benefit as we are talking about these ladies habitats. We raised over $100 that evening and after playing one of the players walked up and handed me a check for $400 to assist in the program. Wanting to remain annonymous, he told me that he had been blessed and wanted to share and help where he could.

Those are the routes that we are taking at this time. I am writing this for two reasons. First, I am asking for your prayers and thoughts towards it. I am a man of faith who believes strongly in the power of prayer and also knows the value of positive thinking. We can solve this problem corporately.

Secondly, any ideas on what we can do is greatly appriciated. You can leave them here or contact me at 419-6021. No ideas are bad ideas. Many unworkable ideas have lead to productive ones and I know we can make a difference here.

Here is where we are to this minute. Pacific Power has sent me information that I need to look over. I am prepared to assist them in their forms if needs be and hope that the proud ones will come along. I called up the lady that I had met at the sale and she has agreed to be the laison for the widows in the park that need the help. I asked her how many there were and she said that she really wasnt sure but knew of at least six living in her area of the park. I will try to keep you posted on further developments.

1 comment:

Rudy said...

You know, Lyle, most of us have no idea how much some of these retired people are hurting financially. We are quick to send aide to the starving kids in Africa, but neglect to recognize the needy here at home.

People don't have a problem with opening up their wallets when they know there is a legitimate need...the 'need' just needs to be communicated somehow and people have to know that any funds they send will go for the cause. It would be nice to have a program to 'Adopt a Widow'. A program like that could be a full time ministry for someone in your church. It could start out focusing on helping with the heating bills for the widows in need in the park..then expand out to other widows as the Lord blesses. Donations going through your church would be tax deductable.

Certainly the retirement park behind Jakes isn't unique...there are probably a lot more retired folks hurting than we know. However, the park is a starting place.