Safe at Home

Published on: January 4, 2017

Those who make a difference


“Hey, are you okay?” a voice cried out from the lanai not far from where Mo lay on the ground.

Mo waved, signaling he was fine. Of course he was fine ­—despite the Parkinson’s disease, the weak heart and the still-mending broken back. He was a child of the Great Depression, a teen who fought in a world war and a member of The Greatest Generation. Besides, big men don’t cry, and they certainly don’t ask for help or directions.

Then the ambulance arrived and carted the tough little guy to the emergency room, just like they had done five times in eight days.

The cultural mindset that caused Mo to reject help is similar to the one that caused his neighbor to avoid getting involved. I know because I have done the same thing.

There was a horrific multi-car accident on the interstate. I slowed and was ready to pull over to assist the best I could. But then I would be late for an important appointment, and I would be assaulted by nightmares of pain and suffering and blood and guts. Instantly there was a break in the traffic, and I took it, putting the carnage behind me and leaving a guilty conscience ahead.

I chose not to get involved. The price was too high.

One of the most rewarding things I have experienced in creating a caregiving agency is associating with those willing to pay the price. These are the people who embody the teachings of Christ, whether they know it or not. These are the people who give more than they receive, who do unto others as they would have others do unto them, who refuse to cross to the other side of the road when they see someone in need.

God bless them because they make our world a better place. And they make me a better person by associating with them.

Here are a few of the many people I have met who make a difference:

• Patricia Greene, CNA, Life Path Hospice: The first person I met after picking up Mo from the parking lot. Greene visited Mo daily and several times knocked on my door seeking assistance to get Mo off the floor. In those bad old days when Mo was alone and helpless, Greene would return after work on her own time to make sure Mo was safe and to bring him food. Then she would go home to feed her own child.

• Diana Razon, RN, case manager at JSA Healthcare-Cortaro: Periodically we confer about the needs of certain patients and how they can be helped. Razon is the kind of person who stops on her way home from work to make sure an elder-in-need is okay. She frets that patients lack the resources to get help and brainstorms how to make a difference in their lives. “Sometimes I have trouble sleeping because I worry about them. I don’t see them as patients; I see them as human beings,” she said recently.

• Chris Waite, personal banker, Wells Fargo: Yes, even bankers are kind, compassionate and willing to help others. A mountain of a guy who banged heads and tried to mow down opponents as a college football player, Waite gives his energy and considerable intellect to assist others.

Waite is a people person and he has a network of contacts who help solve problems. Besides, it is good to know a guy who always offers to lend me money.

• Debbie, Mo’s neighbor and the sheriff of our homeowners’ association: Beneath her gruff New England exterior is a kind heart. She makes a difference by visiting Mo so he can pet her dog, and if something needs to be repaired she has a tool box as big as her heart.

• Maria, a retired hair stylist: She cut Mo’s hair. I asked how much? She said, “Nada.” I insisted.

“Ok, I take 10 dollar and put in collection plate at church.”

• Ann Stewart, fitness instructor at Kings Point: Lining the glass window of her office at the gym are the photos and names of her favorite students. All are 90-plus with two breaking the century mark. My goal is to become one of them.

“When you have done this for the least of mine, you have done it for me,” said Jesus Christ more than 2,016 years ago.

Jim Curtis is the owner of Home Haven. He is certified by the state of Florida to provide homemaker and companion services and focuses on keeping elders-in-need in their homes. Call him at 813-331-3471, or e-mail