[From the desk of Shannon Field]
Helping Hands has changed over the last few years. One of those changes is that we help people in need in our local Western Washington community.
This is the story of Shelley, just one of many people touched by your helping hands.
First a little background: At our fundraising auction in October 2016, Roz Gorc (now our board president) brought the King County Chaplain Sue Timpe as her guest. Though Sue was familiar with our thrift stores, she was unaware of the work we do in our local community and in Peru. At the auction, she heard about our many programs and efforts. Coincidentally, her son Darren is a police officer for the City of Bothell Police Department and we had just finalized our partnership with both them and the Bothell Fire Department.
Shortly after the auction, Darren received a call from the Microsoft XBOX team, which wanted to raise money to help families in the area. Darren directed them to Helping Hands. With our partnership with Bothell Police and Fire Departments and the Northshore School District, we had identified ten families in need to receive a Christmas tree, stand, and decorations; a $100 Helping Hands Thrift Store gift card; a $500 Visa gift card; and a new XBOX SI along with a Live membership and all the games the kids could ever want. (Any money raised beyond this was designated for the construction of one of our community centers in Peru.)
One of the ten families receiving these gifts was Shelley’s, and I was asked to deliver hers personally. I didn’t know much about her circumstances, but what I did know made my mother’s heart hurt. When I walked into her home, Shelley greeted me with the strongest, most loving hug.
I am a mom, and when I looked at her face, my mama’s heart reacted. We instantly bonded. I am having a hard time putting to words what happened, but it was just easy to talk. After all the delivery elves left, Shelley shared her heartbreaking story with me: her beautiful daughter had been murdered in cold blood in 2015.
Her tragic death should never have happened. The man who violently ended her daughter’s life had been serving time in prison. Due to a computer glitch, he was erroneously sent free. Less than two months later he murdered Shelley’s daughter Annelise on a cold February morning.
Shelley’s life changed forever. She had recently had heart surgery. One day she had a daughter, the next she was gone in an instant. One day she enjoyed spoiling her grandson, the next she was his full-time parent.
She began to prepare for Christmas. She wanted to make his Christmas special. Then a call came from the nurse at her grandson’s school. “I gave your name to Helping Hands, to get you a little extra help at Christmas, I hope you don’t mind?” She didn’t at all. This was totally unexpected and she was extremely grateful.
Not only did she get help to make Gabriel’s Christmas special, but she also found in her community support, love, and a place to go when she needs some help.
The day before we delivered her gifts, a jury found Annalise’s killer guilty of all charges. Recently I joined Shelley and her family as they heard the judge pass sentence on her daughter’s killer: Life, with no chance for parole. The judge also ensured that “life” mean the entirety of this man’s life. Seeing the community of police, prosecutors, family advocates, Helping Hands, coming to support Shelley, and being part of this community has been an honor.
This is why I do what I do. This is why we are here to help. When you partner with us, you are a true hero, in every sense of the word. You are changing lives around the world. I am humbled because I know I could not do this job without each of you. Your support, love, and prayers make it possible. I am excited to for 2017 and the opportunities to get to know each of you on deeper level and share the incredible life-changing stories you make happen.
Deepest of thanks,