Venita leads a life filled with friends, dancing and hobbies. Before his passing, Venita and her firefighter husband spent their time together square dancing — an activity that both of them were very passionate about. Those dances with friends at local senior centers and other events may be one of the reason’s Venita is in such good health for someone more than 100 years old.
Her beloved husband passed away in 1984. But, it was not until recently that Venita and her caregivers realized she was eligible for medical and financial assistance from the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. Her house needed some love and renovating, but with her age, it was hard to financially and physically hire a contractor to take care of it.
With the help of Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund, firefighters volunteered their time and labor to demolish the garage that had become an eyesore in her neighborhood — free of charge. And that’s not all.
Charity Secretary Andy Kuljis said, “We helped her with her health insurance; she got [additional] dollars each month; and we tore down a substandard structure on her side yard. We eventually want to build her another garage.”
“They had to move my car which had been sitting there for many, many years and it wouldn’t run,” said Venita. “So, the firemen had to bodily pick it up and take it back where it was out of the way so they could get to the garage as it was being taken apart, and then they hauled that away.”
The charity’s mission is to care for the families of fallen and injured firefighters, such as Venita. With rising health care costs and personal expenses, it can be difficult for seniors or other families to support themselves when they have lost a spouse in service.
“I really didn’t know that they helped the widows. I thought you had to be absolutely desperate to get help. It’s been worthwhile for me and I’m sure it will be for other people… just to know that someone’s there to help if you need. It is great,” said Venita.
By Rachel Kellogg