When Uber driver Lauren Mulvihill picked up 89-year-old Ronald Dembner from the Henry County Veteran’s Hospital, she knew it wasn’t going to be a regular fare.
He was clearly suffering and in poor health. But it wasn’t until they got to his house that her worst fears were verified.
Instead of being received by family members, she was greeted by something straight out of a nightmarish episode of Hoarders. Mr. Ronald’s house was encrusted in dirt and cluttered with debris. The surfaces, floors, and walls were covered with trash and grime, and the odor was unbearable.
He had no one to help him because he was widowed and his two sons had died. Because of the horrible living circumstances, even the home care nurses had stopped coming to visit.
He was utterly alone except for his dog, Homer, who had begun to defecate in the house.
Mr. Ronald, unable to clean up after himself or Homer but fearful of losing his house and his dog, was too afraid to seek assistance.
Mulvihill, on the other hand, was not.
Fearful of what she saw, the single mother of two resolved to take matters into her own hands. She called DFCS, the fire department, adult services, the Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army for hours.
No one could provide assistance.
“Everyone claimed he’s OK intellectually, he’s just older. So no one will assist,” she explained to 11 Alive.
After exhausting all other options, she issued a call to arms on Facebook, forming the group Helping Mr. Ronald. She described the scenario in part, writing:
“I drove him home, and he asked me to assist him in getting inside.” It’s. Horrible. The man lives alone and is unable to care for his pets. The house is in shambles.”
She then went on to say that “the main issues are dog poop (1 dog) and general disrepair (no railing on the stairs, soiled carpet, and furniture, etc)”
She was well aware that it would take an army to put things right. Fortunately, she had discovered one that was 2000 strong. The army banded together.
Dozens of volunteers showed up, armed with cleaning supplies, equipment, and a strong desire to help.
Mr. Ronald’s house was completely dismantled and deep-cleaned from top to bottom in less than a week. All of the rubbish, old furniture, and rotting carpets were removed by volunteers.
It was only the start. Help kept pouring in.
Homer received free fencing from a husband and woman team, rabies vaccines and flea treatment from a veterinarian, and free meals from a local caterer.
Furthermore, other craftsmen volunteered their time to construct new flooring, paint the walls, and repair the deck, all using donated goods from community members and neighborhood companies.
Mulvihill, in addition to the structural upgrades, scheduled appointments for nurses and health care staff to return to the residence.
“He is so thankful, he cracks me up. He keeps saying, ‘I don’t know what I did to deserve all of this from all you guys,’” said Mulvihill. “It’s giving him hope that he will be taken care of.”
Mulvihill and her army of volunteers may have made a life-changing change in Mr. Ronald’s world, but she claims it also made a difference in hers.
“I will never forget their assistance and love for the rest of my life.” “I’ll never forget it,” she declared. “We will never forget you, either,” she remarked as she addressed Mr. Ronald.
Because that’s what happens when we help one another. It’s not only about making a difference in someone else’s life; it’s also about the significant influence it has on our own.
When we stretch our hand to help others, we unwittingly help ourselves.