Thanks to our Generous Donors and Dedicated Volunteer Guardians
Proudly, we take this opportunity to identify those who have graciously supported us over the years.
Merck **** Johnson & Johnson **** Large Foundation **** United Way of Hunterdon County **** Holt Charitable Foundation **** Anne Spychala Family Charitable Foundation **** Investors Bank **** Comfort Keepers **** Peapack Gladstone Bank **** Wright & Ford Family Funeral Services **** Flemington Furs **** Flemington Car and Truck **** Hunterdon Care Center **** Rolling Hills Care Center **** Hunterdon Healthcare **** Shoprite **** Marge Rand CPA **** Shanahan & Voigt **** Patty Ratner Weidel Realtors **** Bill Healy Designs **** NJN publishing **** Unity Bank **** Fulton Bank **** Gebhardt & Kiefer
Guardian Story of the Month -- Anne Schafer
Elizabeth became my ward in April, 2014. I was apprehensive about the court hearing regarding her capacity. All went well and I choked up as I was sworn in as her legal guardian. It hit me that I now had responsibility for her well-being and finances.
Elizabeth is a retired nurse who never married. She was a very capable, independent, and self-sufficient woman. She lived on her own in her own home until February 2014, when she fell and was taken to Hunterdon Medical Center. It became apparent then that she was unable to care for herself . She was admitted into a skilled nursing facility on February 19th.
So what to do? Where to start? Her temporary guardian had started the process for qualifying Elizabeth for medically needy assistance to help with her nursing home expenses. I reviewed her financial records and it became clear that selling her house was top priority. Her financial resources were limited. Unfortunately her home owner’s insurance policy had lapsed several years before, so I had to scramble to find unoccupied home coverage, which is quite costly. Minimizing carrying costs associated with the house was key, so I cancelled unnecessary services such as telephone and cable. I recovered over $200 in unused magazine subscription fees and had my eyes opened to abuses associated with magazine solicitation of the elderly. I also recovered several thousand dollars that a friend owed her.
Her house was filled with papers, important ones mixed with unimportant . Going through them required patience, diligence, and organization. If I was unsure if I should keep a document, I kept it and used file folders set up in broad categories. Even being careful, I inadvertently threw out her car title, which was mixed in with greeting cards. Something made me go back through the bag of trash the next day, and I found the title amid the cast-off cards. Going through this process also gave me a sense of her life, as I found her parents’ marriage certificate, her birth certificate, her parents’ death certificates, her boyfriend’s obituary, cards from friends, documents from buying her house.
My husband, father-in-law, and a good friend assisted me with clearing out and cleaning up her house in order to put it on the market. My friend helped me paint several rooms and donated some paint and curtains. That’s a true friend! The house went on the market in mid-May and we got an offer in August. Mainly due to financing issues, we finally closed in late November. What a relief!
The nursing home she was in was about 30 minutes from my home, and I was only able to visit her once a week. Once her home was sold, I moved her to a facility about 10 minutes from my home. I see her several times a week. I know she liked to put together jigsaw puzzles, since she had at least 50 of them in her home. The other day I brought a 100 piece puzzle to the nursing home, and she and I put it together. It was the first time I felt I saw her true personality. Dementia has stolen so much from her, but she was able to put together the puzzle and explain her strategy to me. I took a photo of her and the puzzle. You can see how happy she is!
People often ask me why I became a guardian for a stranger. I tell them the reason is because I miss my own mother, who
died three years ago. Elizabeth was born 2 months before Mom. What better way to honor a kind and generous woman who came from a family of caring and charitable people?