Written by Mary Jo Shaw, Panorama resident. June 2018
A fictional story explaining how the Panorama Benevolent Fund Social Assistance Program works. All characters appearing in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or deceased is purely coincidental.
“I can’t help it that I have all these things wrong with my legs! Why do you keep yelling at me?” Mary’s tears made Jim even more upset. He stormed out of their once happy little apartment in one of the Panorama buildings. The slam of the door matched their volume.
Heading toward Panorama Hall for a cup of coffee, Jim’s frown and fuming red face caught the eye of one of the on-campus Independent Living Services social workers arriving for work. “Are you all right, Jim? How is Mary?”
“Oh, I don’t know how I can take this much longer, especially with all the bills we have lately. I’m running out of steam trying to care for her, cook, do laundry, and take care of the house. I’m so wound up at night, I can’t even sleep. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house in days. I’m frustrated and not myself. I know our garden plot needs upkeep. I love Mary very much and want to care for her, but I just can’t keep going on and on and on.” Jamming his waving arms into his wrinkled pockets, he traced his old shoe on the parking stripe on the asphalt. Jim needed to vent; the social worker simply nodded her concern.
“We’ve been almost frugal with our spending, but I’m getting nervous with our finances…my set of dentures, her hearing aids…it all came so sudden.” After more details, the social worker offered to refer them to the Benevolent Fund Social Assistance Program to see whether they qualified for temporary help until Mary was able to be back on her feet again.
He hesitated, but a glimmer of hope helped him take a deep breath. “Maybe. But I don’t know if Mary would approve. She always worked so hard. But it sure would help.” Jim was reminded that only two people knew the names of the independent residents asking for assistance in qualifying for funds.
A Benevolent Fund worker arrived the next day to talk with the couple and gathered information about financial resources to take to the office. After several phone calls to health care agencies, and final arrangements, the Benevolent Fund office assured Jim and Mary they would be able to have a caretaker.
Olivia was well trained in her work of home care. She prepared meals, freezing some for her off-days, changed sheets, did laundry and some vacuuming. Mary enjoyed Olivia’s pleasant visits during the three days of weekly appointments. Jim joined the other guys in the Pea Patch, bringing home veggies and flowers to a happy home once again.
After a few months when Mary was ready to be on her own, she and Jim hugged Olivia. “You’ve been a God-send. Panorama is so good to us. The Benevolent Fund really does work!”