Sunday, October 28, 2012

Good Works

+ A newsletter about the good works being done by members of the IC-OLPH community
October 26, 2012                                                                           
Editor:  Deacon Dennis Kelly                                     
Inaugural Edition - Volume 1                                     

This is the story about a ”squeaky wheel,” a phone call and an angel at the other end of the line. 

It all started with a simple phone call to the parish office last spring. 

 An official from the Everett Fire Department said, “I’m looking for some help.  The Monte Cristo’s elevator has been down since February and these people are having a hard time with the stairs and I just need someone to help so we can get (a ‘squeaky wheel’ resident) out of the Mayor’s office.”  Carlene Nelson was filling in that day answering phones at the IC-OLPH parish office and took the call.

Turns out the fireman contacted the perfect person for the job -- an angel at the other end of the line eager to help. 

The Monte Cristo stood vacant for 20 years at the corner of Hoyt and Wall before Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services converted it to low income housing in the early 2000s. 

But the elevator at the six-story building never worked very well after renovation and had finally given up the ghost.  This would be no easy fix.  It would take months to get a new one installed.  Until then, residents had to use the stairs.

But residents there needed immediate help.

“There are many marginalized older people (there), many of them disabled,” Nelson added. 
So, Carlene first called the new manager at the Monte Cristo to set up a meeting that included the “squeaky wheel” resident who lived on an upper floor.  The manager was working through CCS/CHA to get an employee on site to help residents, but was stuck within a human resources hiring process.   Carlene also contacted the Mayor’s office and started working through a helpful staffer. 

After that, Carlene contacted her “partner in crime” Immaculate Conception parishioner Fede Chavez who works with her on “No Disabled Souls” (a recently restarted ministry in our parish providing twice monthly art classes for people with special needs).

Together they found some able-bodied teenagers from the Boe and Jenks families and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioner, choir singer and resident master gardener George Grewing.  As Nelson put it, “they are just awesome servants in this community.”    

Working through the Mayor’s office, Carlene set up regular times to have this team of parishioners available to Monte Cristo residents for assistance (bringing groceries up and down the stairs, etc.).

Not everyone needed help, but for those who did the team was a Godsend.

All summer the group showed up several times a week to help.  “You could see the spirits of the people lifted to know that somebody listened and somebody cared,” Nelson said.

Two weeks ago, a CCS/CHS staffer was hired to take care of this work.  The elevator should be fixed by Thanksgiving.

Since then, the residents they helped invited Carlene and Fede back and presented them each with a lovely plant and a signed “thank you” card.

Why does she do it?  Carlene has a soft spot for people struggling with disabilities.  Since a childhood bout with polio, she’s been partially disabled.  “Most of my life I hid the fact that I was disabled until one day God said, ‘Don’t!’” 

But it’s even more than that.  Nelson remembers a cartoon from when she was a child, “it was a picture of a ratty little kid and the caption was ‘God Don’t Make No Junk.’  There’s a purpose for everybody and the challenges He gives us are only opportunities to do what He’s called us to do here so that we can go home (someday) and be with Him -- whole.”

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