Time is Now donors help loving, grateful grandmother through financial setback

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Sal Dimiceli | February 18, 2014

Dear W.C.,
I am a 58-year-old woman. I am raising my 6-year-old grandson after his mother and father were killed in a car accident. The reason I am asking for help is because I had some unexpected expenses.

Two months ago I had a very bad toothache. I tried to ignore it because I do not have dental insurance. After a few days it got so bad my face started to swell. I knew I couldn't ignore the pain or fever any longer. I went to the emergency room and they told me I had a massive infection in my mouth. They said if I had waited any longer, I could have died. I was in the hospital overnight and had to have oral surgery the following week after all the antibiotics.

They made me set up a payment plan immediately even though I have no credit and do not have any extra money over what I earn and the small amount of assistance I receive for my grandson.

I fell behind in my rent and utilities due to making the payments on these medical and dental bills. I also did not have any income while I was out sick because I already had used all my sick days when my grandson had the flu. This whole financial mess has left me feeling sick inside every day.

  — Worried grandma
Dear readers,
I called the grandma at the work number she provided. She answered the phone saying the name of the store at which she worked. She apologized for giving me that number but explained she did not have a cell phone. After we spoke for a few minutes, I set up a visit at her apartment that evening.

When I arrived at the apartment I could hear the grandma and grandson talking inside. When I knocked on the door I heard the grandson ask in an excited voice, “Is that the man you asked to visit us, grandma?”

I heard her patiently answer, “Well, let's go see.”

The door was answered and after introducing myself, and showing my identification, they both invited me inside. The apartment was on the first floor in a building I have not been in before. The grandmother said she had moved there when her grandson moved in, as she had been living in a one-bedroom apartment. The grandmother said the rent was slightly more for the two bedroom, but she had been required to move in order to gain custody. The grandmother gave me a short tour around the small apartment. The grandson proudly showed me his “own” room.

He said, “I never had a room or a bed before I lived with grandma. I used to sleep on the floor.”

The grandmother was obviously pained hearing about the lifestyle her grandson had been forced to live in.

“You will never sleep on a floor again, my little man,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The grandma asked the grandson if he would like to watch some TV while we talked about grown-up stuff.

The grandson said, “Grandma, I thought I wasn't allowed to watch TV at night anymore?”

The grandma gave him a kiss and said, “Just this one time.”

The grandma told me how she was trying to limit the grandson's TV time due to his being behind in reading skills and math. She said they spent a lot of time at the library and reading.

She said softly, “My son and his wife were not good parents to him. ... I tried several times to have him removed from their home, but they always managed to pull themselves together just enough to keep custody.” 

We spoke some more about the life the young boy had lived. She told me how she had to explain to him over and over that she would make sure he always had enough food to eat.

With that, she began to cry as she said, “And here I am asking for help so he does not have to be hungry while living with me.”

I asked if I could look around her kitchen.

She looked embarrassed as she said, “Don't expect to see much food. We have been eating very cheaply lately.”

I looked around her small kitchen and confirmed what she had said. It really saddens me to think that it has become a luxury for people to obtain proper food and dental care.

The grandmother showed me all her bills and invoices to verify her need. She was so worried about ruining her credit by not paying the medical bills, she had nearly become homeless. She knew if she was evicted, she would lose custody of her grandson as well.

I asked if she had called about the medical bills to see if they could be reduced. She said she had not because she was afraid of their anger over her payments being late. I suggested we call while I sat with her.

I told her to tell them about her financial situation and ask if they could reduce her balance. After talking with them, she was surprised that they did just that. They not only reduced her balance owed, they lowered her payments. She was so grateful for just this one tip.

We went over the rest of her budget and helped bring her rent and utilities up-to-date. We also paid the remaining balance on her dental bill after I talked to the dentist.

This made her budget manageable. The grandmother worked full time and sometimes was able to bring her grandson to work with her — a big benefit — as she did not have to pay for child care. On other days she traded child care duties with a neighbor who had a child nearly the same age as her grandson.

I could see they lived very frugally, yet the grandson had everything he needed to thrive in a healthy environment.

After we finished going over the budget and assistance the grandmother asked if I would pray with them. She asked her grandson to turn off the TV and come say a prayer with us. He very obediently came to sit next to his grandmother.

The grandmother led us in a prayer, thanking God for leading us to them.

The grandson added at the end, “And thank you, Jesus, for giving my grandma a friend.”

Together, we will continue to replace the fear, pain and suffering of poverty with compassion, healing, caring and sharing. Thank you for helping us achieve God's good works for those in desperate need.
Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,
  — W.C./Sal
Please help: 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 Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax deductible, itemized thank-you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.

A special thank you to: Fox Charities, The Summertime Foundation, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Interstate Insurance Group, Therese Kuban, Clarence and Marilyn Schawk, Martin Group, John Stensland and Family, Peterson Drywall, Lake Geneva Opticians, Marvin and Audrey Hersko, Arlene Clausen, Michael Glass, Anna Kiel, Sid and Patty Johnson, James and Janice Batten, Louise and Clifford Morris, Margaret Plevak, Gregory Swanson, Becky Feffer, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God-loving volunteers of all our 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.   

Editor's note: The Time is Now to Help was founded by a local businessman who knew extreme poverty as a child. With the help of donations from the community, The Time is Now is able to help local residents in need.


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