2.16.2009

Be the Kind Stranger (if you can)

In this economy its easy to be selfish and only think of yourself. I know I do. I came across a very nice couple that had it all at one time. Good jobs at P&G, driving a Lexus, owned a home; the American Dream. Now they have nothing. Literally. For example, I would often say I have no food in my house but I could probably make do for a week with what I had. When my patient said this they really meant it. As I was doing my assessment she took me into the kitchen and literally the only food they had was a jar of peanut butter (the wife hoped hers wasn't recalled) crackers and a can of coffee. I think they also had a couple apples. They are now living in a one bedroom apt, very well kept with some very fancy furnishings (from their "good ole days" that she is trying to sell to make rent) There was also Lexus parked out front, but it doesn't run. How did they get here?

My patient (the husband) was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's and the wife took a leave of absence to care for him take him to testing, specialists, the whole nine yards. His disease was progressing so fast she couldn't/ can't leave him home alone. After her twelve weeks of leave she was "let go" at her job because they were "downsizing" and obviously the husband is unable to work. So they foreclosed on the house and got the apt., then they cashed in their 401K's and took big hits but were able to pay rent for 1 year and get by. This coming month they have no income and may be evicted from the apt. They no longer have any income at all. The wife applied for social security disability for the husband back in August so when they ran out of money this month he should be getting Social Security by then. What she didn't know to do was keep following up with Social Security. She found out in December that the man a Social Security didn't input their info correctly so they have to start over with the 6 month process. What do they do for the next 4 months?

And to answer your question... No social security doesn't care if it is their fault. They are still having to start over from square one. I talked to them myself.

As a social worker I felt helpless. I can't make money appear. The wife was so organized and has applied for everything possible with no response. The county gave her $60 dollars a month ago and hasn't heard another word since. I was going to give her money out of my own pocket so she could get food but remembered she has absolutely no transportation. The lexus parked out front doesn't mean much if you literally don't have 2 nickels to get it fixed.

I was able to finish the rest of my day and then I went to Kroger after work. Took the $85 out of my purse and bought them as much as I could with it. I'm not going to say it was easy for me to do this. It wasn't. I had a lot of things I wanted to buy with that money (mostly crap I didn't need anyway), but couldn't go home to a house full of food knowing someone that only had crackers. I'm not telling you this to toot my horn but because I learned I need to be a little more giving. Especially right now. Times are hard for a lot of people. I have a lot more patients like this and I can't give to all but if I can just one its worth it. My patients wife cried in my arms for a long time. She said she never expected this type of kindness from a stranger. I can't tell you how much better I felt for doing this. I could sleep well that night. I know it won't get them far but hopefully another stranger can help them too.

3 comments:

elektra said...

my stranger sister just bought me a ton of new clothes=]
thank youuuuuu
(this means no shopping for another year)

PS: #6 is strange:
STRANGE adjective-
1. unusual, extraordinary, or curious; odd; queer
2. estranged, alienated, etc., as a result of being out of one's natural environment
3. situated, belonging, or coming from outside of one's own locality; foreign
4. outside of one's previous experience; hitherto unknown; unfamiliar
5. unaccustomed to or inexperienced in; unacquainted
6. distant or reserved; shy.

Josh Emerson said...

:-)

SocialWkr24/7 said...

Way to go the extra mile! :)