By Ted Hickman
Cute, precocious, tiny, full of energy and maybe just a tad brighter than the average five year old, Lu-Lu and her dad and sister came to town Wednesday to have Ray McCluskey fill up their van for a trip to Oakland’s Children Hospital the next day. She was going early yesterday for a pre-op physical and to make last minute arrangements for her pending open heart surgery next Thursday, Jan.10th.
She has a hole(s) in her heart and her chest needs to be opened to allow the surgeons to do repairs. On Wednesday she showed Ray and me her little shirt that had a sequined red heart that she said, “Is right over my real heart.” When asked where her new little Gymboree parka was she said, “It really isn’t cold enough to wear it right now.” A few minutes later she popped into and out of the van wearing “her” coat.
This family of five children and two adults live in a rural two bedroom trailer, substandard by even the most liberal interpretations of any housing codes or laws. “But we have a roof over our heads and our family is able to stay together,” Lu-Lu’s stepdad told us. The family really needs a three bedroom (or bigger) house or apartment where it can bring Lu-Lu home to after her surgery.
The general filth and mold and mildew on the walls of their current residence will not be conducive to the healing process of a little girl just coming out of open heart surgery. In my opinion it could be disastrous, which is why the Dixon Toys for Tots Community Christmas Programs has taken on, and will stay with this family, until they have suitable housing, and Lu-Lu is home and well on her way to recovery. In 44 years we have never before gone to these extremes past Christmas.
The parents said doctors told them she will need bed rest for four to six weeks in a subdued, clean environment…this is where you come in. Certainly at least one of our readers either has, or knows of some one that has a place they can rent. We have enough donations into her fund so we can help subsidize their rent payment for up to a year or until social service funding becomes available. They can barely afford the $850 he’s been paying for the trailer but is prepared to pay that much with us making up any difference. We have a group that will pay for the parent’s motel stay during her surgery. They plan to share 12 hour shifts with her and were going to alternate sleeping in their van. Our organization will give them a gift card for food which will be receipted by them for our purposes as a 501C-3 non-profit charity. We will not directly give the family cash.
Many of our people I’ve taken to their home all agree the family is just on a run of hard luck. The dad is disabled and said he has several years of college and two AA degrees. He wants to get more education and get into social work. The mom is working on her AA (while raising five kids, all in schools in Dixon)…all of this after they get past Lu-Lu’s heart surgery.
We have all found the family to be clean, well spoken, loving, good Christians who attend church twice a week. We, having become inadvertent advocates for them, can’t rest until this little girl and her family has a place to do so, safely and clean. If you can, please put a little extra effort and help find them a place in the Dixon Unified School District. They don’t ask for or require much and are grateful for everyday and everything they have (which isn’t much).
There are two of our organization’s people working on this and you can contact either of us. Arlene Jimenez at 707-676-5104 or me at email@example.com, or 650 Sierra Dr. Dixon, Ca. 95620.
We are not using the family name because we feel nothing positive can come from it. The kids all go to school here and if they chose to share their experiences with others they can…we will safeguard their privacy as much as we can.