By Lisa Ramirez
As a Times Herald-Record reporter, my beats have included city halls, schools, entertainment and justice. I love my work because we live in a terrific part of the world and its people have great stories to tell. No assignment, though, has ever put me in the path of more amazing and inspirational stories than writing about the People for People Fund.
Stories like the one about an Orange County couple and how a dog named Wyatt came to be part of their family. The husband had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and though he managed his disease with grace and bravery, his wife was afraid to leave him alone, even just for a quick run to the store. His balance was unsteady and sometimes he'd fall, and his vision was deteriorating. The doctors suggested he get a service dog, and they agreed that the idea was brilliant. With a dog, he'd never be alone, and both he and his wife could reclaim their independence. The couple managed to pull together enough money for the dog and the three weeks of training Wyatt and his new humans would require, but the additional cost of the hotel, well, that put the entire dream out of reach. It was People for People that helped with the bill.
And people like Kaitlyn, a third grader who read about the People for People Fund one Christmastime and decided that she, too, wanted to help. So the little girl, who had learned about alms in religion class, decorated a shoebox and began collecting donations. She raised $17, and moved others – from her local lawmakers to her grandparents and their friends in South Carolina – to add hundreds to her gift.
And the young mom who needed help with a car repair a few years back so she could get back and forth to school. People for People kept her on the road, and not long ago she sent the volunteers a thank-you note. She said she had graduated, become a nurse, and along with her letter was a check, her first donation to the fund.
Since its first campaign in 1985,
the Times Herald-Record's
People for People Fund has
distributed over $4.4 million
through the year of 2014