Louise wasn’t asking for luxury, a gift, or even charity. She’s was looking for dignity. Dignity for her brother Jerry who suffered neglect and abuse at the hands of his caregivers.
Support of the PWC 2012 Oscar Night brought Jerry that dignity and the comfort of home he very much needed.
Louise, 57 and Jerry, 66, are siblings born in Moultrie, GA. They grew up in a hard scrabble life picking cotton in a rural community without many luxuries. Jerry was born with Cerebral Palsy and profound learning disabilities. Their mother worked hard teaching Jerry to be as independent as possible. Their father had been killed when they were young, and the family worked hard to make ends meet.
At best, their daily life was challenging. But what little they did have was violently shattered the day their mother was shot and killed – in front of the children.
“It’s something that stays with you forever,” says Louise, with tears in her eyes. “Our mother loved us and did everything she could for us and she was taken away in a horrible violent death. We saw it, we saw everything, and it just never leaves you.”
Jerry was sent to live at an adult group home in Florida. Louise and Gina made their way to Cincinnati, where other relatives were living.
As the years passed, all seemed to be well with Jerry’s care until one day when an uncle made a surprise visit to Jerry’s group home. He was shocked with what he found. Jerry was malnourished and had suffered horrible physical abuse. When Louise received the phone call, she knew the decision had already been made – Jerry would come to live with her and her friend Marietta.
But the Bond Hill home wasn’t ideal for a person with disabilities. Jerry can’t walk, so Louise had to carry him up and down the steps to use the toilet or for a bath. Louise has had had two knee replacements; Marietta has bone spurs and nerve pain in her back. They worried about dropping him.
“We didn’t want to hurt him – or us,” said Louise.
What the family needed to care for Jerry was a basement bathroom and shower. It was a difficult, expensive job due to the plumbing which was dug up from the basement floor. Also, the door where Jerry accesses the basement and his chair lift was widened and made more accessible. The size of the job was beyond the scope of what People Working Cooperatively typically performs.
But support from PWC’s Oscar Gala helped Jerry receive the care he needed. He now has a beautiful state of the art bathroom in his basement, and an expanded doorway to help him get in the house.