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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time is Now: God is not the only one crying

Send your donation to: The Time Is Now to Help, PO Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157


Editor's Note: The following is a letter to The Time Is Now, a private charity serving Walworth County. The founder, who knew poverty as a child, now provides help for those in need. Every penny donated goes to the needy for daily necessities of life. Donors will receive a tax-deductible itemized receipt showing exactly where every penny was spent. We'll publish a letter most weeks.

Dear readers,

I received a letter from a 13-year-old girl asking me to check on her friend. She told me they were poor and the father drank a lot. It was a simple letter, not much more than a few sentences, but those few sentences led me to a lot of pain.

When I knocked on their door, the man who answered was not very well kempt and smelled. He seemed drunk. I found myself in an awkward position. I really do not like helping lazy people who do not want to help themselves.

As I was standing there thinking of an appropriate introduction, I heard him say in a loud voice, "Well, what do you want?"

I said I had heard that there might be help needed.

He looked at me very hardheartedly and said, "I do not need any help," and closed the door in my face.

I walked back to my car and as I sat there pondering, the school bus pulled up. Several kids got out of the bus and two girls started walking toward the door where I had my encounter.

I caught up to them before they got to the door and asked if they had a friend that liked one or both of them enough to have written me a letter telling me that they needed help. They both looked at me and stared back at the door and you could see they were scared--not of me, but of the man who was behind the door.

They said, "Please, would you mind calling after our stepfather is asleep and talk to our mom?"

I waited until about 10 o'clock that evening. The telephone was answered on the first ring. She replied that she had been waiting for my call.

The mother said she had wanted to write a letter for a long time but never had the courage. She said that her boyfriend for the past six years was very controlling. She said the biological father had died six years ago. Initially she thought this person coming into her life to help her with her girls was a good person. She found out after a few brief weeks that he was a user and an alcoholic. I could hear her crying. I asked her if she and the children were OK, if they were safe and she pleaded, "Please, don't call the police. It will just get us in more trouble with the stepfather."

Since she was so insistent, and clearly terrified, I agreed that I would not call.

She said she was working and only making $8 an hour. He was not working and drank all day, buying his alcohol from the money she earned. He drank until he passed out every night.

She was not supposed to do anything but go to work and come right home. She said she usually worked about 60-65 hours a week at two different jobs, cleaned the house, cooked their meals and did the laundry herself. He insisted that the daughters not do any of the work, that the mother do it all. He would get upset if she became ill or too tired to go to work and would punch her around in front of the girls.

One time she showed up at work with the flu and was told to go home by her employer. She told me she was too afraid to go home. She hid in a public bathroom. He actually was counting her hours and had the nerve to ask why they cheated her on her paycheck that week.

Even with all the hours she was working she was unable to keep up with the rent, utilities, food, his truck payment, repairs on her older car and anything else he saw fit to buy with her paycheck.

I told her that I was there earlier that day asking if he needed any help and that he had closed the door in my face. "Why didn't he say something?" She said, "He expects me to work miracles," and began to cry. I asked what he needed a truck for if he is home drinking all day.

She replied, "It's not good enough to buy alcohol and bring it home. He goes and sits at a couple of his favorite bars and drinks there, too."

When I returned to visit there was another young girl and her mother there also. The guest turned out to be the mother's best friend, who was also threatened by the stepfather to not be involved, not to tell anyone. It turned out the young friend visiting was the one who had written the letter.

I discovered there was no real food in the house, except for the junk food that the stepfather liked when he was drinking. When he was at his favorite bar he would "eat out" with the money she had made; and he couldn't do that as often as he wanted to if she was spending the money on groceries. I have seen a lot of cruelty in my many years of running the Time Is Now but I am still shocked by this man's abuse.

As she proceeded to tell me more of the abuse she withstood from this man I could see there was still more that they were not telling me. When I questioned them about what else was needed to help, the mother looked at her little girls and began to cry. In a few minutes all five of them were crying. After quite some time passed the mother said, "Remember when I said my daughters don't have to help me clean? Well, he tells them that because they have to do alone time with him in the bedroom."

I was filled with anger and sickened by this story of brutality. When I could speak I asked, "Why haven't you called the police?"

The mother said that one time she did call the police because he was in the bedroom with her daughter and she could hear her daughter crying. He heard her making the call and the result of that was one of the worst beatings she had ever suffered from that man. He then turned his wrath on the daughters. When the police came it was quickly dismissed as a domestic misunderstanding.

Between my anger at the situation and feeling the pain that these five innocent people were going through I had to ask, "How have you been enduring all this?"

The older daughter said, "I really don't know, but I do know that God is even crying." I thought, "God is not the only one crying."

I asked the mother if she had ever tried to get a restraining order. She said he had told her if she ever got a restraining order he would wait outside for the girls when they came home from school and kill them. After about an hour and a half went by I was told that I had better leave.

I sat in the chair and said, "I am not leaving." She warned me that he would be home soon and he would be furious.

I said, "He is going to have to kill me too, because I'm not leaving all of you in this prison." That's when it dawned on me that these two adult women and three children had so much fear of this man and their lack of faith in the justice system to protect them. We have all seen strange things happen. How many women end up in protective shelters because they cannot keep these men from brutalizing them?

When I asked them about the lease, her reply was that it was in his name and he constantly threatened to throw her out because of that. He made her get money orders in his name to pay the landlord. You could see this horrible person had everything covered.

I asked, "Do you have any relatives anywhere, or any other friends you could stay with?" The mother's best friend said one of her relatives had rentals in another state and she could move there. The mother said, "I do not have any money--he takes every penny I make."

My reply to that was, "If you want to do this, if you want to be free, just grab a few things. I will get you situated. I will set you up with clothing, initial rent, security deposits, help with your vehicle and even a job wherever you end up." The best friend encouraged them to go. The daughters pleaded, "Mom, please." The mother looked at me and asked, "You really will do this?" I reassured her with a wholehearted, "Yes!"

They quickly grabbed the few belongings they had. When she told me the wreck of a car she was driving was also in his name I said, "Leave it."

They relocated far away from that awful man. They got a new life, a fresh start. The kids are doing well and learning to live a normal life without the daily terror they withstood for years. The only regret I have is we were not able to do anything to correct the brutal man who inflicted all that terror. I often wonder if he is terrorizing anyone else's life. God is not the only one crying. This brutality goes on more often than we know -- behind closed doors-- and as long as the public, we the people, allow this type of terrorizing to go on, there are loopholes for these snakes to slither through and continue their barbaric ways.

Please, if you hear a cry for help, stand up, speak up and be heard. Shutting the doors and closing our eyes is only making God cry more.

I received a letter several months ago from the mother and her two daughters saying how happy they are, how normal their lives are, how they have a nice place to live. They have food and a good job. Her best friend with the daughter who wrote me the letter asking for help actually moved there, too. They are all very happy in their new lives. What really stood out is how the two girls said they are so happy to come home to their house that has been blessed by God. Once again, thanks to the Time is Now to Help, not only has a home become stable with good food and all the daily necessities, it has become a sanctuary where people thrive, a real home. The daughters put a p.s. on their letter, "God is smiling."

I thank everyone for caring and sharing.
Health and happiness,
God bless everyone, WC

P.S. I would not have run this sensitive of an article without talking to the mother first. I want everyone to know that they have decided to press charges against the abuser for his brutality. Now, it will be up to the courts to serve justice and protect the public.

A special thank you to: J.D. Development, MLH, Bill and Lois McEssy, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Jay Ieronimo, Steve and Catherine Boho, Clarence and Marilyn Schawk owners of the Geneva Inn, the Rhoades Foundation, Paul Ziegler, Dorothy Heffernan, R. and M. Alderman, Alvin Schoof, Tim and Kim Graham, Joanne Zeasman, Patricia Sherman in memory of Ed McCoullough, Hill N Dale HCE/Walworth Co. Assoc. for Home and Community Education, Neil Diercksmeier, Carl and Beth Guest, Greg and Susan Loth, June Davidson, Al and Ellen Burnell, Robert and Donna Beecher, Tom and Susan Stelling in memory of Jeff Partridge, the following Eyeglass Gallery fundraiser donors: Cathy Bogyos-Erikson, Eye Physicians and Surgeons Staff, Rebecca Pankow, Kevon and Annette Gunyon, Larry and Margit Pearson, and Debra Lynn Steinke; the following donations were given in honor of Johanna Sterken's 90th birthday: Lois McCarthy, Elfrieda Vriezen, Richard and Grace Hirte, Anita Scott, Dale and Gail Folkers, Jacob Keizer, John and Barbara Verdouw, John Jeninga Sr., Dorothy Nietfeldt, Leon and Mary Sterken, Law Offices of Seymour, Kremer, Nommensen, Morrissy and Koch.



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