One minute 48 year old grandfather
…of three, Bart Ickes, was sitting in the kitchen of his Brookings home along the Oregon coast. The next minute he was slumping over in his chair with an apparent heart attack. His daughter-in-law Tonya called 9-1-1, and Bart was immediately airlifted from Brookings to the Rogue Valley Medical Center (RVMC) in Medford for emergency treatment.
Tonya and her husband Daniel quickly gathered up their 10 year old disabled daughter, along with her sister-in-law’s two children, ages 2 and 4, whom Tonya and Daniel parent in the sister-in-law’s absence, as well as Bart’s wife (Tonya’s mother) Colette. They set off on the 125 mile emergency trip from Brookings to Medford with only $200 cash in hand, nothing in the bank, and no credit cards or other extended family members to call upon for help. Tonya knew the $200 would barely be enough for gas to get to and from Medford let alone for food and shelter for the family of five while there.
Tonya and her family arrived late that same night at RVMC to find out that Bart had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital and was awaiting surgery. RVMC was able to accommodate the family for that night at an onsite location sponsored by the Ronald McDonald Foundation. When she woke up the next day, Tonya got the good news that Bart’s surgery had been successful, but the family was without a place to stay for the next few days while they waited for Bart to recover enough so they could take him home.
Someone at the hospital suggested that Tonya call Help Now! and advocate Jeri Jackson took Tonya’s call. Even though the family lacked money for food, Tonya’s main concern was having a roof over her family for the next few nights. The local shelters that typically might help in such a situation were full, and cash assistance from churches and the local Hope Chest had already been exhausted by the needs of others.
Meeting a dead end in trying to solve the matter from those angles, Jackson began calling hotels and motels to see if they would donate a room or two. General manager Dave Haymes of the Red Lion Hotel in Medford agreed to help Tonya and her family. Dave agreed to allow Tonya and her family to stay up to three nights free at the hotel. He also graciously worked out an arrangement with Help Now! concerning the deposit that is typically required under such circumstances.
Having obtained shelter for the family, Jackson next addressed getting them food. She contacted Laurie of the Gleaning Network charity who graciously arranged not only for a short-notice donation of food but also delivery of it to the family’s hotel room. Jackson also contacted another local social service charity, St. Vincent De Paul, and obtained a change of clothes for the children.
After two days in the hospital following his surgery, Bart was well enough to be released and traveled safely back with the family to his Brookings home. Tonya had this to say about Help Now’s! intervention: “We made tons of calls from the phone book, and nobody helped us. If it had not been for the swift help received from Help Now! to find us a place to stay, I don’t know what we would have done. Our van was not even an option because of my daughter’s disability.”