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Monday, March 23, 2009

I Can't Print Magic Money

I paid a visit to an old neighbor of mine from another subdivision. It's been quite a while since I've seen her and although we aren't close friends, we were good neighbors. We shared a lot of laughs and stayed in touch through the years. My friend is in her early seventies and is pretty much alone. A remarkable lady, she often has many wonderful stories to tell, especially of her youth growing up in the South, and of her adventures with the men in her life.

It didn't occur to me that due to the economy, my friend might desperately need help. These past few months had been very tough on her. Her air condition had broken down and she didn't have any funds to repair it. She had to drive to the Catholic church every week to get a bag of free food. My friend, who had always been an independent lady, told me that it was the hardest thing to do, to drive her nice car to church and, instead of donating, stand in line to get help. She also told me that the church had asked her to come back once every two weeks now because there just wasn't enough food to give out to everyone.

My old neighbor is not your typical idea of someone in need. She lives in a relatively nice house and owns a vehicle. Her deceased husband had left her ample funds on which to live. However, much of it had been wiped out by Wall St. and hospital bills, so she's now alone, trying to make it with the few checks coming in. She has quietly sold most of her jewelry and nice clothes, along with some of her collection of pretty porcelains.

Today, I went out shopping to buy her some food and although she doesn't expect it, I hope to be able to help her out as much as I can. This has started me wondering about all the other neighbors around us who might be living in quiet desperation that we're just too blind to notice because we're busy trying to make it too.

If you have an elderly neighbor who lives alone and seems not to have too many visitors, please give him/her a minute or two and check up on their needs. Sometimes a gift of a rotiserie chicken dinner might be the first non-canned food they've eaten in weeks. Or, if you're able to, consider donating a sack of food to your local church. You don't have to be religious to do this. The Catholic church helping my friend didn't require her to be a member of their church or to attend any services; they have been giving out as much food as they can but there are just too many families in need right now.

I feel it's important to share this because many people feel too ashamed to ask for help. There are some who actually think such requests coarse or "unclassy," blaming the plight of the one in need on his/her inability to save enough money for rainy days. Sometimes, that rainy day money can be wiped out without a peep of warning. Think Bear Stearns, one of the largest investment banks, and those millions who had their accounts/investments with them when it went down like a house of cards. Some of those millions are older folks like my neighbor, who have no other means of income and are too old to go back into the job market. And too ashamed to ask their friends for help.

These days and these times, with that magic government printer churning photoshopped Lincolns, Washingtons, and Hamiltons in the background, we just need to take care of our friends--close or mere acquaintances--in our own way.

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Ita said...

Your post makes me very sad. But your concern for your old neighbor is so uplifting. Thanks for the reminder. You're a very good person.

I can paypal you $25 to help your neighbor if you wish.

Gennita said...

Hi Ita,

Thank you for being so generous but no, I didn't mean for my post to ask for donations. I wanted everyone to think of their neighbors and even, hopefully, get some food together to donate to their churches or United Way (which is also very helpful to needy citizens).

But thank you again for the generous offer. Please use it to help a friend in need in your area and also bring awareness to your friends about this, either by word of mouth or even linking to this post. I think that's the best way to spread my message.

LadyZannah said...

Reminds me of my across the street neighbor back in GA. She was elderly and alone, even tho she was well off financially her kids only saw her as an ATM machine. Poor lady was dying to just talk with somebody, to feel wanted and not for her money. Sometimes I would bring her dinner or just sit there and listen for an hour about her dog's latest destructive rampage.

Deborah Blake Dempsey said...

As I was driving home today, I started thinking about donating food to a food bank and checking out some of the shelters to see if they need anything I may be able to help them with.

Things have turned around so drastically in the last few years and, like you, my heart hurts for everyone struggling.

"Love thy neighbor" is truly the sentiment of the new century.

Gennita said...

Lady Zannah and Deborah,

I feel that it is up to the individual, and not just government "bail-out," to get things back on the right path again. And by that I don't mean we can just ignore the current global and national problems and it'd go away, but we, as people, need to stop and help each other and understand that if we don't take care of our family, friends (including neighbors) and those in need in these times, then we allow anarchy to put a foot in the door. Sorry to be a downer!


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