NFF Family: Poor health devastated couple, forced them to live in truck

Joe Slyvester
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Lynn and her husband used to have a home. But her health problems dating back to 2013 and his heart attack about a year ago prevent them from working.

She had worked in retail and her husband in construction. But once they were out of work, the bills piled up and they soon found themselves out on the street, living in Lynn’s truck.

“We were homeless from July to mid-September,” Lynn, 54, said during an interview this week.

Now they live in one room in The Edison Hotel in Sunbury.

“I am classified disabled,” she said. “We both live off my income. My husband approximately a year ago had a heart attack. He has a defibrillator in.”

Lynn said that in July, her husband’s doctor told her that her husband’s heart was at 38 percent. More recently, his heart was at 48 percent. He wasn’t strong enough to have heart surgery. He’s 42.

She said her husband worked as a contractor for 18 years and is in the process of trying to get disability benefits. He previously was denied. He has to go to a hearing with Social Security to try to secure disability.

Until they can improve their finances, they are living in the hotel room. But they can’t use the truck to get around because it needs tires and an exhaust system before it can pass inspection. So they walk everywhere they have to go.

“I’m grateful to have a roof over my head,” Lynn said.

She pays $500 a month for rent, and water, heat and cable are included. But that eats up most of the $750 a month she clears in her disability payments. Lynn said she applied for help from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, to help pay her expenses.

“It would help me to live here or least put an exhaust on my truck,” she said. “Walking around here, it gets cold, and I have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).”

She also has had issues with her back, entrapped nerves in elbows, asthma and carpal tunnel syndrome since 2013.

“I had to fight just to get my disability,” she said.

Lynn has four adult children, but they are financially unable to help and don’t have the space to house Lynn and her husband, she said. She also has three grandchildren.

“I’d love to have my own place with a living room, kitchen and bedroom,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want all the attention. I appreciate all the help that I get, but I don’t want be overwhelmed.

Nevertheless, Lynn is grateful for what she has, she said.

“You take what God gives you and you go with it,” she said.

Since 1987, The Needy Family Fund, sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and BB& T Bank, along with the Degenstein Foundations, has raised more than $2.7 million during the holidays to assist the Valley’s less fortunate. It is administered by Salvation Army citadels in Milton and Sunbury. This year’s goal is $75,000.

People can make checks payable to The Daily Item Fund for Needy Families and mail or drop them off to program co-sponsor BB& T Bank, 400 Market St., Sunbury, PA 17801.

Donors can also visit any local BB& T branch where they will process the deposited donation, mail a check to the 400 Market St. branch or donate online through https:// app.mobilecause.com/vf/Family2017.

The fund recipient’s name has been changed for this story.

Email comments to jsylvester@dailyitem.com. Follow Sylvester on Twitter @JoepSylvester.

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