If Only I Was Ellen or Oprah or Just Plain Rich

I’ve been asked many times what exactly I do all day.  I guess from my own experiences that I have an idea what educators, students, doctors, dentists, secretaries, postal workers, accountants, lawyers, and many more occupations do during the course of the day, but I guess when I say I work for Hart Felt Ministries, it does lend itself to questions about what that might possibly look like.

Because of my background as an educator I really like that fact that no two days are ever the same for me.  Sometimes I’m in the office on the phone and shuffling papers, but sometimes I’m in the homes of our clients conducting initial visits, getting paperwork signed, assessing environments, and coordinating group projects for our volunteers.

Today I’m in the office and just got off the phone with Lana. Lana was trying to tell me her story, but many times the conversation paused so she could compose herself through all the tears.  Lana’s husband of 38 years was about to turn 70 and made his career as an over the road truck driver.  He was within a couple of weeks of his ten year anniversary with a local trucking firm here in Jacksonville when his rig broke down near Albany, GA and he had to wait out the repairs in a smaller truck that did not lend itself to being lived in as his big rig had.  While the repairs were to be completed in days, it had been two weeks and then Lana’s husband suffered a heart attack under the stress.  She recalled going to GA to be near him in the hospital and her son driving up to be near him, as well.  She talked about how grateful she was to the hospital staff for being so kind and caring to her family during the ordeal and also about the challenges she faced working with two funeral homes as she had to bury her husband.

Because her husband passed away three days before his work anniversary date, the trucking firm refused to give Lana the vacation money she was counting on.   In fact, when she finally got one of the owners to return her phone calls, she was told not to call them again.  Lana desperately needed that money to pay her bills while waiting for her husband’s death certificate so she could access his death benefits, pay the funeral homes, and figure out her finances going forward.  Lana has many health issues, as well, and is receiving disability benefits that would not even cover the huge JEA bill that was now past due.

We used to refer financial need cases like this to the Senior Life Foundation, but they closed their doors last month.  While I’m talking with Lana, I am Googling as many agencies as I can think of so I have someone for Lana to reach out to.  So many of these agencies have financial challenges of their own and are not taking referrals now or Lana has already reached out to them without any success.  I gave her a couple of numbers but cautioned that there were no guarantees that they would be able to provide what she needed.  We even discussed taking legal action, which she ruled out due to cost and emotional energy she did not have.  Finally, we talked about using media attention to the situation and I referred her to a local news reporter who took stories like this and had great success in getting resolution.  She liked the idea and took his name and number.  While I wish I could have just handed her the money, if only I were Oprah or Ellen, or just plain rich, we don’t have money to give away like that.  I wish we did.

So back to the original question: What do I do all day?  I guess I give people hope.  I can only describe what that looks like in little snippets, but in a nutshell that’s what I do all day.  In many different ways God uses me to help people feel a little less alone and a little more hopeful that tomorrow will be better.  Sometimes I can help provide something tangible, but sometimes I can only provide ideas.  That’s not a bad use of my time at all.



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