Barhite: Greatest philanthropy is helping an everyday personWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
I like to donate to good causes. I have given to Easter Seals, National Alliance on Mental Illness and the United Way. But one of my favorite ways to help is to give to regular people who don’t benefit from a nonprofit — people who just need help.
But I didn’t realize how much a Kroger gift card, a cash gift or an unexpected check could mean to the other person until my mom, Karen Barhite, became that other person.
On June 6, my mother fell down the steps. She broke her femur, she broke her tibia in several places and she destroyed her kneecap.
She endured a five-hour emergency surgery; spent four weeks in a nursing home; and then she moved into my house for four months as she learned to function again, sans a functioning right leg.
First she hopped with a walker (no pressure was allowed on her right leg for three months). Then, she used the walker to hobble with both legs. Now, she has progressed to a cane, but her ability to walk quickly — and long distances — will probably never be the same.
All along, she has been off work with minimal savings, no sick days and very few vacation days.
My dad, a man who became a corrections officer after a 40-year career in tires, makes a modest wage, picking up overtime whenever it is available. The financial worry began in the ambulance that night.
But the resulting kindness since her traumatic fall has allowed my 60-year-old mom to focus on her recovery, not her checkbook. Her stepmother, Evelyn Buchholz, gave her a Kroger gift card one month and a check another month to help makes ends meet.
My friend, Linda Wilker, gave my mom a set of sheets for the daybed that would be in my family room for her convenience. My sister’s friend, Gwen Weber, made my mom dinner and dessert.
When I needed to take my mom for a shower in a handicap-accessible bathroom, Anytime Fitness in Perrysburg allowed us to come in to use the gym’s bathroom, even though no one in my family is a member.
And the list continues with many other gifts that require anonymity.
All of this seemed like more than enough, and then we found out the biggest news yet.
On Nov. 9, her employer, Dr. Steven Fox, and her co-workers are hosting a benefit in my mom’s honor. She hasn’t been able to work since the fall because her job requires hours on her feet as a periodontal surgical assistant in a fast-paced environment.
At first, my mom said, “I don’t need a benefit. I don’t have cancer.” But Robyn Lashaway, who has worked with my mom for 16 years, insisted my mom needed this, especially since she might never work as many hours again.
“I couldn’t imagine if that was me. I couldn’t imagine being off for five months. I wouldn’t be fine,” Lashaway said.
Fox’s office staff is incredibly close, she said, and until my mom’s fall, no one has been off work this long.
“Your mom might say, ‘It is OK, we are fine,’ but the holidays are coming and I would be so worried about bills,” Lashaway said.
The spaghetti dinner is 5-8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Providence Lutheran Church, 8131 Airport Hwy., Holland. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Gift baskets will be raffled off.
My family and I are overwhelmed by the kindness shown to someone whose cause isn’t tax deductible.
It reminded me of my favorite song this summer, “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips.
I didn’t even realize why I liked the song so much until I really listened to the lyrics:
“When you fall like a statue, I’m gon’ be there to catch you, Put you on your feet, you on your feet … You’re my backbone. You’re my cornerstone. You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.”
I can’t say it better than Phillips, so I won’t try, but thank you to everyone who is helping put my mom back on her feet.
Email Toledo Free Press Community Ombudsman Brandi Barhite at email@example.com.