Being down on one’s luck is an obvious understatement for anyone who’s not only struggling with a medical condition, but the finances needed to help stay healthy — or even just alive.
It’s why Ron and Mavis Ramsey do what they do, which is collect bottles, cans and scrap metal which are then returned for money that goes to help people who are sick and struggling financially to keep up with associated bills.
Helping Hands, as their charitable organization is called, touches many people in this community. And it’s been gathering traction amongst other organizations here that are pitching in support as well.
In 2012, $17,686 was raised – some of which also came from cash donations made through the Northern Savings Credit Union. That amount is up more than $5,000 compared to 2011.
After an entire year, there’s now a balance of $5,000 left to help.
The couple first started its efforts in 2009, sparked by the realizations that many seniors were getting sick due to an inability to pay for prescriptions.
“One of the problems here is that seniors don’t know what help is available to them,” said Ron Ramsey. “It just feels like nobody cares.”
Initially, the program started by helping seniors with low incomes pay for prescriptions they couldn’t afford.
There are now four drug stores in town that work with Helping Hands – both Shoppers Drug Marts, Save on Foods and Safeway.
Each has a balance on hand from Helping Hands used to help pay for people prescriptions.
“They call us when they get low and we top them up,” said Ramsey.
Hawkair has also signed on board to help now, offering flights for those who cannot afford to pay for medical travel expenses. Helping Hands pays taxes and airport fees.
It has covered four flights this year through Hawkair, and paid the full price of another with a different airline for someone who needed to travel to Kamloops for treatment.
Mike Barg received a flight to get cancer treatment in Vancouver.
“I think what Ron and Mavis do with Helping Hands is beyond words,” said Barg.
“And I still get teary-eyed when I think of of what they did for me,” he said of Helping Hands.