Offering ‘salvation’ for those in need

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Features Editor

‘There’s no disgrace in sharing what others do for you.

That’s why Alice Fulmer said she is not ashamed to say that she has had to ask for help.

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"I never knew I would come to this position," she said. "I’d always worked, mostly in a sewing factory, and I didn’t think that this kind of hardship was waiting down the road for me."

Mrs. Fulmer left the Birmingham area to come back to Pike County and take care of her ailing mother. After her mother died, Mrs. Fulmer’s son became very ill and was unable to work and she became his caregiver.

Any money Mrs. Fulmer had been able to put aside was soon gone and she found living on a fixed income was simply not enough to take care of the most necessary expenses.

"I don’t buy things for my pleasure," she said. "I buy only what I have to have and there’s just not enough to make ends meet. Sometimes the money runs out and the food’s gone and I just have to make do the best I can."

To supplement her "fixed income," Mrs. Fulmer gets $10 a month in food stamps, "and that’s a little help."

However, with utility costs rising, gas prices going out the top and her income remaining the same, Mrs. Fulmer has, in recent weeks, found herself unable to meet her bills, purchase medicine, and sometimes, she has to go without food. A pretty new dress is only a dream.

"I stayed in a strain all of the time just trying to survive," Mrs. Fulmer said. "I couldn’t see any relief coming from any direction."

She is deaf in one ear and has only partial hearing in the other and she’s still paying on her hearing aids.

"I just pay a little along as I can," she said. "Without these (hearing aids), I couldn’t hear a word."

But she did hear a neighbor’s response to her plaintive question, "What in the world can I do?"

"She told me about the Salvation Army and how they help people in need, and I was in such need," Mrs. Fulmer said. "I thought that God knows my needs and He has given me the knowledge to let Him lead me to where I should go, so I was not ashamed to ask the Salvation Army for help."

Mrs. Fulmer said she was warmly received at the Salvation Army Service Center in Troy.

Cindy Duke, director, listened to Mrs. Fulmer’s needs and immediately began to find ways to assist her.

"Cindy and the Salvation Army are a God-send to me and I’m sure to a lot of people like me," Mrs. Fulmer said. "She has gotten me some help with my bills and I’ve gotten some clothes and some food when I didn’t have any. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come here. It’s good people who support the Salvation Army so they can help those of us who just can’t make it on what we get."

Duke said the Salvation Army is able to do for those like Mrs. Fulmer because of "a lot of people with good hearts."

"About 80 percent of our funding comes from the sales in the Thrift Store," she said. "We are supported by the United Way and we couldn’t do without their support. And, we also have Federal Emergency Management Agency funds available and

churches and individuals who support us. We are always so appreciative of their generosity. Because of it, we are able to help more people with more needs."

With the extremely hot weather, Duke said the center has been busy with calls for assistance with utility bills.

"Many of those who are living on fixed incomes are faced with turning off their fans, or air conditioning if they are fortunate enough to have it, simply because they cannot afford to run them. That can be very dangerous to their health."

The local center is handing about 100 calls a week from those who need some kind of temporary assistance. Even though not all of those requests qualify for assistance, the demand on the resources is overwhelming.

Duke said everyone can be a part of the good works of the Salvation Army by donating clothing, furniture, appliances and yard sale items to the center.

"We would ask that furniture and appliances be in good condition because we don’t have any way to repair them," she said. "We are able to give the full amount for tax credit and that is often more beneficial than selling items at a garage sale."

The Salvation Army has a truck and will pick up large items such as refrigerators and stoves.

"All anyone needs to do is call the store at 807-0200 and we will make the necessary arrangements," Duke said.