I went to my local Starbucks the other day as I always do when away from home to work. It was a bit busier than usual; many people were coming up to the mountains for the holidays.
While working, I could not help overhear two tables conversing about health insurance. I had a corner table, and the two people to my left and right started talking about health insurance and retirement.
Cheryl, a type 2 employee from the Midwest, said she was retired and had excellent health insurance. She came to Tahoe in 1980 because she suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrom and a well-known specialist resides and practices here. Since then she has been a long-term member of the community until recently when she suffered a bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrom. Her illness disabled her, causing Cheryl to get behind on her rent. Her eviction led her to live in her vehicle with her therapy cat Chester until she can save enough money for first last and a deposit for her next apartment. Studios here are about $800 a month.
Overhearing Cheryl’s story was disturbing. It was the end of November, and the freezing snowstorm is soon to hit the mountains. Feeling distracted with the neighboring conversion, I decided to stay focused and speak to Cheryl once I completed a time-sensitive matter. Unsure how to approach a stranger in a comfortable coffee shop with warm leather seats and a fire burning, I took my time packing up giving thought to how I would transition into the conversation. The couple to my left decided to leave which gave me an opportunity to talk to Cheryl casually as I stood up and slowly gathered my computer. ” You are living in your car?” I asked. “Yes, I am hoping to move into a place soon.”
“I couldn’t help but notice how positive you are when speaking about you living situation and medical condition. I admire your sunny disposition given your circumstance.”
“I like to stay positive and believe something will work out, ” said Cheryl. ” Have you considered a GoFundMe account? I would like to help you get into your apartment before the winter sets in,” I said. “Yes,” and I am happy to say that locals already contributed to my cause. I asked her for her email to stay in touch with her progress.
The next day Cheryl sends me an email asking me if I turned her into the local authorities “a concerned citizen called the Sherriff department and reported my living situation, so they have given me two weeks to find a place to live that is outside of this town. ”
“I am sorry to hear this,” I replied.
Shortly after this incident, she landed in the hospital with a UTI, bacterial infection, high blood sugar from her type 2 diabetes, and pneumonia. She emailed me again to let me know that “Animal control had to come for her therapy cat Gibson because her friend could not get him out of the car.
Cheryl has a retirement plan and excellent medical insurance. However, her fixed income makes it difficult to save for the costs asociated with moving into a new rental.
With the snowcap mountains; below zero temperature, by the Grace of God, she is currently hospitalized for her multiple conditions.
As a diabetes community, I hope we can make a difference in helping Cheryl get into her next apartment.
If you can find it in your heart to contribute, no amount is too small. All donation are to be made to the Cheryl and Gibson Lafferty Apartment Fund.