Driving people around to do their errands and volunteering at church keep Lenora Ching’s mind off her aching back, and warms her heart with satisfaction.
“That makes me happy, that I’m able to do stuff for other people. It gives you a wonderful feeling. After that, you forget about your own pain,” said the 77-year-old Ewa Beach resident.
Recently Ching was torn between giving up her car or paying off a debt, but she couldn’t bring herself to let go of her only means of transportation, she said, reliving the anxiety of the dilemma. “I do my best to get by these days (but) I would greatly appreciate any help,” she added.
Through the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Good Neighbor Fund, readers can help Ching and others who are struggling just to afford basic necessities. Our annual holiday drive starts today to support Helping Hands Hawaii’s Adopt A Family Program, which is aiming to brighten the lives of 600 families this year. The program will provide a special Christmas dinner, needed items and a few extras from Santa.
Readers may adopt any family or person featured in our Good Neighbor stories over the next six Sundays. Information on donating clothes, household and other items, or monetary contributions is available next to this article.
Last year’s Good Neighbor Fund raised $127,703, which supplied holiday requests and “crucial assistance” with rent and utilities over the following 12 months, said Maria Vuong, a Helping Hands program supervisor. Most who received help were families at risk of becoming homeless or already living on the streets, but trying to turn their lives around to obtain permanent housing — the same people this year who make up the majority of recipients, Vuong said.
Ching, who took care of her ailing husband of 57 years, is still fighting the depression that has nagged her since his death in 2013 and is burdened with worry over paying her bills. She sees therapists for depression and treatment for her back and knee injuries, and is looking forward to back surgery in mid-December for relief.
Ching feels fortunate that “I’m still able to walk,” adding: “Look at other people; they may have no legs, no arms. They don’t want to get out of bed and enjoy life because there’s nobody to help them. I’ve been blessed.”
She said: “My time here on earth is so short, and my husband is gone, so I’m trying to get things done I wasn’t able to do when I was his caregiver. I don’t want to lay down; I want to help people.”
A longtime member of Kawaiaha‘o Church, she began attending Ewa Community Church regularly after her husband died.
“This is where I find joy and happiness,” Ching said. “I try to stay positive by remembering what I have — my legs to walk and my strength in the Lord.”
Ching has five children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and credits them with giving her “a reason to live.”
For Christmas, Ching requested a new pair of walking shoes and a credit card for gas.