Joyce, a retired Erie County resident, lived on a farm with a four-bedroom home. She claimed the house was big enough to fit a party of 100 people in the basement. But she lost it all when perpetrators of an international money scam contacted Joyce and financially exploited her for several years.
“Joyce lost her home, farm and hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of being scammed,” said Carol Wheeler, Adult Advocacy program coordinator.
In the United States, one in 20 seniors experience some form of financial victimization with only one in 44 cases of financial abuse reported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association. Fifty-one percent of elder financial abuse is committed by a stranger to the victim.
Catholic Charities provides Payee Services to help protect seniors from scams and misuse of funds by people whom the victims trust. We manage accounts and bill payments to protect elders from financial exploitation in Richland, Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Lucas Counties. Seniors and out-of-state family members are able to have peace of mind knowing their finances are protected.
In 2012, Joyce’s son contacted Catholic Charities to arrange for help manage her finances and advocate for Joyce’s daily needs.
Since using Catholic Charities’ services, Joyce has been able to enjoy life debt free and experience new opportunities. She now lives in an independent senior citizens residential facility in Sandusky where she socializes with new friends, attends Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and enjoys the amenities available in her new neighborhood.
“I’ve been here for about two years, and I like it here a lot,” said Joyce happily. “Down the street, there is a flea market, and they have all kinds of things available for senior people.”
Joyce was selected to represent Catholic Charities at the installation Mass for Bishop Daniel E. Thomas this past October.
“The Bishop was very nice, and I told him that I was honored to meet him,” Joyce said.
She thanks Carol and Catholic Charities for allowing her to take part in the occasion and helping her maintain her day-to-day life.
“Catholic Charities has helped me pay my bills, get my glasses and set up doctor’s appointments,” Joyce said. “If I have a problem, I call Carol. She’s always ready to help.”
Thanks to your support, Joyce is financially secure and free from worry of becoming a target of scams again.
Bonita’s family lost everything.
In 2009, Bonita’s world was rocked. Her son, Elijah, who had been having headaches, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That’s when things started unraveling.
She and her three children had been living in the Cleveland area in a house owned by her father. But when her dad had a stroke, he was unable to work and eventually was forced to declare bankruptcy.
And Bonita couldn’t support the family by herself. Since she couldn’t make their car payment and their rent and their health insurance premium, they lost everything.
“I look back, and it’s like God was talking to me through that man. I don’t know what we’d be doing now if we hadn’t come here. Probably living in a shelter in Cleveland in the middle of who-knows-what, and I’d be worrying about my children and their safety. And you know my son’s medical situation would suffer, too.”
Please pray for Elijah
Elijah has been going regularly to Cleveland Clinic for treatments – and Bonita asks everyone who reads this to pray for him.
“I will always be grateful to God for listening to our prayers, for giving us what we need to live.”
Since coming to Miriam House, Bonita has been working at a home health care service, assisting invalids with in-home care. In October, the family was able to move into an apartment of their own.
“I’m just so, so grateful to everyone here,” she says. “They made the transition so easy for us. They were so welcoming. This isn’t like a shelter, it’s a home. I have peace of mind now. God is in this place.”
Asked for a closing thought, she says: “My son Elijah loved it so much there that he didn’t want to leave Miriam House. I can’t even tell you how grateful that makes me. This place does so much good. So much good.”
Oct. 31, 2012—Catholic Charities is hosting a chartered bus trip from Norwalk to Chicago with a stop in Fremont on Nov. 10 for a schedule-free day of sightseeing and holiday shopping.
Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Catholic Charities’ ministries including: the Miriam House transitional housing program in Norwalk for homeless women and children, adult advocacy for the elderly and community emergency services. The trip is sponsored by Domino’s Pizza and Twilight Gardens.
Tickets are $75 per person and include chartered transportation with snacks, games, movies and prizes and nine hours to explore the city. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Martha Hillman at Catholic Charities at 419-668-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 8.
Her little son, Cayden, is sitting in a high chair, looking like Calvin from the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Under his mother’s watchful eye, he is feeding himself haltingly with a spoon.
It is the thirtieth day since Cayden and his mother came to Miriam House, Catholic Charities’ emergency center for mothers and children in Norwalk.
“I think he’s very bright,” his mother, Lindsay, says, obviously proud. “He wants to do everything by himself. He repeats everything.”
With her big eyes and her sweet smile, Lindsay herself looks like a young girl. But with an 18-month-old son to raise, no money coming in, and no place to stay, 23-year-old Lindsay’s problems were very grown-up.
Nowhere to go
Lindsay’s smile fades as her thoughts return to the recent and difficult past:
“I wasn’t working. I’d lost the job I’d had for four years. We lost our place and moved in with my parents. But my stepdad and I had a falling out, and they kicked us out. So we moved in with his other grandparents for about a month, but their landlord wouldn’t let us stay in their duplex because it was a single-family residence.”
Her hands tremble slightly as she moves to guide Cayden’s spoon.
“I would wake up in the morning and it seemed our situation would just be getting worse and worse. I had no place to stay, no way to see anything would get any better. I was getting depressed. Things were so hectic.”
And, she said, her son’s father was in no position to help.
“He’s got a felony on his record, so nobody will hire him.”
Not surprisingly, the stress Lindsay was under was soon reflected in Cayden’s behavior.
“He was hitting and biting and throwing things – basically doing anything he could to get my attention, so I’d hug him and tell him I was going to make it better. It wasn’t his fault, though. Things were so crazy – he didn’t have any routine or anything he could count on.
“Finally, the people at the CAC (the Community Action Commission in Norwalk) who knew my situation gave us the number here at Miriam House. I called and they had me come in. They explained the program to me, and it seemed almost too good to be true. They’ve been helping me be a better mother to Cayden, and he’s doing so much better already.
“If we complete the program, they’ll help us with a security deposit and the first month’s rent at our own place.”
What it takes
When she found out her story is to be printed in a Catholic Charities newsletter, Lindsay made it a point to emphasize how grateful she is to all those whose support makes Miriam House possible.
“You be sure and tell them how thankful I am!” she says. “Cayden, too! If it weren’t for Miriam House, I don’t even want to think what we’d have done.”
She pauses, crosses her arms and brings her hand to her mouth. Her big eyes have tears in them.
“We’ll be going to church here too. I know God’s a big part of what it takes to turn your life around. I’ve seen that before with people. And now I believe I’m ready for it too.”
The Adult Advocacy Services arm of Catholic Charities helps adults 55 and older who are deemed incompetent by the courts and who have no family resources to call upon. The aim is to provide people with an appropriate level of care and guidance so their living arrangements can be stabilized and their dignity upheld.
Martha had been hospitalized more than twelve times in a six-month period of time. She needed medication to help her cope with her mental illness, so that she could take care of her physical health and her living situation. Catholic Charities was named Martha’s guardian after an emergency referral from a local hospital. She was placed in a nursing home and, in time, submitted to all treatments, including medication. This was a major improvement.
“At Catholic Charities, we try to concentrate on the appropriateness of the assistance we’re providing,” David Moebius, Operations Manager, said. “We expect something from just about every person we serve. It’s about empowerment, accomplishment and independence –and not simply handouts.”
Martha is now living with her sister in her sister’s home. She has improved to the point that her sister now believes she can take care of her, so the sister has applied to the court to become Martha’s guardian.
* * *
Jim was suffering from dementia. He’d begun wandering away from home at night, and his 70-year-old nephew was having to go out at all hours to find him and bring him back home. At times, Jim would become agitated and shout at family members who were helping him. The family also reported that when they would bring Jim food, he would often feed it to his 15 cats. He wasn’t bathing or eating regularly, and his clothes were hanging off of him like curtains.
Clearly, Jim was having problems caring for himself, so local authorities called Adult Advocacy Services for assistance. Staff interviewed Jim in his home, saw the situation and decided an emergency guardianship should be sought. This was secured the following day. They took Jim to the local emergency room to have him checked over. He was eventually placed in a nursing facility near his home, which he came to enjoy very much.
“Everyone deserves to live in dignity, in clean, safe surroundings,” Moebius said. “For a lot of people, Catholic Charities is the curbstone at the edge of the abyss.”
The Norwalk office of Catholic Charities works with local community service providers to help individuals who, due to disability or circumstances, are unable to cope with the demands of life.
The 55-year-old man had always lived with his mother, who took care of him. When she was admitted into a local nursing home, he lapsed into a marginal existence. He was frequently exploited by neighbors who invited him to buy beer and drink with them.
When Catholic Charities learned of the situation, the man had fallen behind on his rent and utilities, since most of his money was being used to buy cigarettes and beer for the neighborhood. Also, his apartment was in need of maintenance, poorly furnished, and in an unsafe part of town.
Catholic Charities was able to provide him with financial education to help him make better decisions. He was placed in an apartment at another location and teamed with a local support group for ongoing contacts to help him avoid similar problems in the future.
“Our mission is not simply to provide people with whatever they need for as long as they need it,” Pat Krause, Catholic Charities Program Director, said. “We’re always taking steps toward teaching, guiding, supporting people in need, so that in the future they can provide for themselves to whatever extent possible.”
A 30-year-old developmentally disabled man had no income and no family to rely on for assistance. He had moved around from place to place, often being taken advantage of because of his disability. He was not aware of the assistance available to the developmentally disabled, so he had never accessed those services.
“Many times, people are just unable to access the support that already exists for them in the community,” Krause said. “In this case, we were able to organize the multiple service providers who then coordinated services for him. He was assisted with rent payments until he could establish a regular income through a job and through federal supplemental security income benefits,” she said. “One of our most important – and most successful – services is simply to line people up with the existing community resources. They need to live in dignity.”