Saturday, July 23, 2016

SO SAD and SO DEPRESSING

On Maui, I volunteer with a nonprofit organization called Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  My main activity is driving Miss Daisy(s).  The first drive is usually a medical appointment.  The hospital and most specialists are in the town of Wailuku, about 15 miles from my house.  Which gives us plenty of time to chat.



Many of my rides are elderly widows. 90% are poverty level.  POVERTY.  This makes me so sad.  And yet MAD.

My special buddy (we now meet at least once a week, with 2-3 phone calls in between, often with no medical appointment at all).  She is in a "rent control" apartment ($850/mo)  and has been on a list for subsidized housing ($400) for 3 years.  Yesterday we went to one of the complexes in another town (the list is a Maui County list ... whichever town's complex has an opening, the waitlist person can say yes or no to that location).  The word was ... at least another 18 months to two years.  Two years or more at the location where she currently lives (and has 6 years of friends).

When I take her grocery shopping, she buys the least expensive item.  She prefers a smaller store but their prices are so much higher.  I convinced her to try $5 Friday at Safeway with me.  I had her bring her receipt from the prior week to compare.  Yes, she was very pleased with the savings!  Although they don't carry as many of the local (weird) vegetables that she likes ... so we will try a produce stand for that.

Several organizations provide food for these low income seniors.  Outdated canned goods (still edible supposedly) and fresh fruits and vegetables that are on their last leg.  But she can usually find a carrot or onion that is usable.  She makes $35 over the income amount that would provide food stamps.

Her living complex does provide some social events every week and she catches a ride to church on Sunday.  But just knowing she can't go to a movie or browse at Walmart for a new pillow because she gave up her car (and the expenses associated with a car), gets to her every once in awhile.  I'm glad I have the time to donate!

One day we just took an hour long drive along the ocean.  It's the simple things in life.  She was in such a great mood when I returned her to her 500 sq ft home.





11 comments:

  1. It's very sad to hear stories about woman living so close or below the poverty line. She is lucky to have you doing so much for her. I wish we had a 'ride' program like Maui has. It's a great place to donate your time.

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    1. There are so many poverty level people here. And she does have enough to go out to breakfast or lunch every other week, usually with a coupon! It's a big treat. She has Parkinson's and takes a few other medicines ... that is a big expense also.

      My heart breaks. Often.

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  2. Ah yes--the Food Pantry. Ours is called Gleaners and it really is like they gleaned whatever little was left after the harvest. The fruit and vegetables are wrinkly and old. The canned goods, off brands and some of the cans dented. The bread is not day-old bread, but several days old. They do have a lot of high carb pasta and noodles--that's why so many poor people are fat--that's all we can afford to eat. I don't know how she can afford $850.00 a month rent. I can barely make my $350.00 rent each month. But--we do what we have to do and realize that any day spent on the top of the sod, is a really good day. :-) Wish I had a driver!!!!

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    1. She eats so little at a time. Now that I know her "staples", if I see them on sale, I just go ahead and get them (cereal, bread, Lean Cuisine, oatmeal, bottled water, etc) and she pays me back. Oh yeh DIET PEPSI! I know her son sends her some $$ but the three girls do nothing. I don't think they know how bad it is financially.

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    2. That's why she is living so long--the Diet Pepsi with all the preservatives in it. It helps preserve our innards!!!

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  3. You have such a big heart, to give and receive. I feel ashamed to say that I burnt out on volunteering after twenty-two years of being an impoverished person's eyes, ears and ride. When my hubby died, I just said, "No more! I can't hold all this heartbreak!" Now I'm wondering if I took on the heartbreak of impoverishment, and didn't see the gift of love inside. I'm so glad you have this special buddy, AW.

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    1. My first special buddy was in Portland, about a mile from my house! We were like sisters!! Even the hubbies got along. My daughter loved them as grandparents (and they had a pool at their condo complex). She died of Parkinson's about 8 years after we met. And then I had lunch or coffee or whatever once a week with George, her hubby. Very rewarding.

      Yet it is emotionally draining. I have to keep myself in check and not get too involved. And am grateful that I have the financial resources that I have. I could volunteer more hours but my heart couldn't take it!

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  4. I'm sure her life is better because of you. Sometimes a little companionship goes a long way, and practical help, of course. Eighteen months to two years is a long wait for someone in such need. It's a very sad situation, and there are so many in the same situation. Too many.

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    1. She was so sweet yesterday ... we shouldn't have to always have an errand to do .... let's just pack a picnic and drive along the ocean!

      She's been on the waiting list since January 2013 .... it's over a 4 year wait for these poor people!!!

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  5. I'm sure your attention and assistance is most vaued by her. Giving up independence associated with driving is always hard in addition to financial limitations.

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    1. It's a win/win relationship. She's teaching me how to pronounce Hawaiian words!

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