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Medical bills wipe out senior widower's savings, earnings

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Sal Dimiceli | January 27, 2014

Dear W.C.,

I am a senior citizen working part-time for some extra income. It is a bad time to be a senior citizen if you have no savings. My wife of 52 years died after being sick for almost a year. She needed a lot of care and medications. Our life savings went into her medical care in that one year. I could not believe how quickly the medical bill collectors took all our savings we had scrimped for all those years. Now I find myself unable to keep up with just my social security. I do janitorial work in the evenings and on weekends. It helps to pay the bills, but I need more time to catch up.

The problem I am having now is my utilities are disconnected. I tried to set up a payment plan but found with the amount they wanted I would not be able to eat for a week each month. Then my car broke down and I had to have it repaired. The repairs took two weeks' worth of pay to just have one repair done. Now they are telling me there is even more wrong with my car.

I feel so scared and overwhelmed. I have no children or family I can ask for help. I asked my church for help and they directed me to you. I've worked hard my whole life and find it very hard to ask for help. I need some direction.

Lonely Senior

Dear Readers,

The thought of senior citizens sitting in the dark, with no lights, without a refrigerator and other necessities, is so upsetting to me. Senior citizens struggling in poverty fills me with sadness.

Think of a lifetime spent working, paying into social security, saving your pennies for  retirement you look forward to, and the illness and death of a spouse, wipes out all your dreams. Not only are you dealing with a broken heart due to the loss of who you hoped to spend your final years with, you also have to deal with the financial struggle as well.

This elderly gentleman did not have a phone. I arrived at the small home he had shared with his wife for many years, not knowing if he would be there. I went during the day since he said in his letter he worked nights. I knocked and the door was answered by a senior man and a little dog. The man was very friendly. He invited me in after a firm hand shake. I commented on how fit he looked and he said, "That's from all the years of hard work. When I see other people that look my age they are either walking with a cane or in a wheel chair. Not me. I need to keep working." He introduced me to his little dog and told me how the dog had been his wife's constant companion. "That little dog is the only friend on this earth I have left," he said. I replied, "Dogs have that unconditional love." He said, "That sure is the truth. No matter how I feel this little one sure makes me feel better." 

I was glad to see he was still capable of doing the hard work that was probably required of him. I noticed the house was very neat for a senior man living all on his own. The man told me how he and his wife had lived in that home for almost their entire married life. He talked about his wife and he shared with me how surprised they were when she became sick. Neither of them had many friends as they were each other's best friends and his wife never had a chance to make many friends over the years of care giving for her parents. The husband had lovingly cared for his wife while working part-time. He said he could not let her suffer doing without what she needed, medications, food, long trips to the doctor, etc. The savings was used for these things and to pay the threatening medical bill collectors for the bills he had received prior to and after her passing away. 

The man cried when he told me about his wife's passing away. He said, "My wife had a loving, gentle heart that I never found in any other person on this earth. We were completely happy to be with each other. I always thought she would outlive me." He broke down crying so hard he was about to fall over. I put my arm around him to steady the poor man into a chair and comforted him as he cried.

After he was composed enough to carry on, we went over his budget. He was so far behind in his utilities due to the paying of all the medical bills and car repair. I spoke to him about the other repairs that were needed for his car. I told him we would get a second quote on his car repairs as the first was very high. I asked about food since he did not have a refrigerator. He was only eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and canned food.

After setting up and reviewing his entire budget, I could see the medical bills are what took all his savings and put him in a very difficult financial position. I told him we would get his payment for his utilities within the hour. He looked at me, surprised by our quick reaction to put an end to his suffering. I made a call for the checks to be prepared and have them delivered to me while we finished our visit. This poor elderly man had suffered long enough. Together, we needed to remove as much of his pain as possible.
I told him we would have his car repaired. He abruptly said, "No! The utilities are enough." I told him his budget would not work without getting him back on his feet. He said, "I cannot believe you even care about my situation." I told him, as I tell everyone we help, about all of you. Your good hearts are how we bring assistance, together, through The Time Is Now to Help. The elderly man listened intently, concluding with tears of gratitude and a heartfelt, "God bless all of you."

In a few days his utilities were restored. He was so happy he gave me a big hug. His car was given a thorough evaluation and repairs were completed. Food was provided to help him get back on his feet. We also included a bag of food for the little dog. Both the senior gentleman and little dog were now our friends and as such I promised to make our volunteers checked in on him regularly. After being caught up on everything, his new budget would be fine. Even though, I made him promise to call his new friends, "us", if he finds himself in need of our help again. I told him, "I don't want to find you sitting in the dark again before you call me." He promised he would. He also sent many "thank you's to all of you" for giving him a life worth living. My last vision of him as I walked away was of an elderly man hugging his little dog, with tears of relief in his eyes and a slight smile. God bless you for helping.

Together, we will continue to replace the fear, pain and suffering of poverty, with compassion, healing, caring and sharing with our hearts to change lives. Thank you for helping us to achieve God's good works for those in desperate need.

Health & Happiness, God Bless Everyone,

W.C./Sal

Please note we have a new mailing address: 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(c)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 to: Fox Charities, Lake Geneva School of Cooking, Chef John Bogan, Pentair Foundation, The Summertime Foundation, Dick & Jean Honeyager, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Interstate Insurance Group, Delavan United Methodist Church, Keith Gibson & Family, Jim & Ardith Drescher, Nestor & Bien Alabarca, Dr. Gerald Theune, Bill & Susan Bosworth, Wayne Reuter, William & Carol Dick, Therese Kuban, Gerald & Joyce Byers, William & Dorothy Tookey, Steve Thornton, Margarie Egger, AbbVie Employee Giving Campaign, Marvin & Audrey Hersko, John & Violet Hotzfeld, Beth Rendall, Roland & Diane Schroeder, James & Marilynn Dyer, John & Kathy Poiron, Jonathan & Susan Kuta, Randy & Jo Timms, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries, ALL of you who support The Time Is Now to Help donation boxes, and the businesses that allow our donation boxes. Anyone who would like a Time Is Now donation box in your business, please call (262) 249-7000. Please visit: www.timeisnowtohelp.org     



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