In Edmond, In Need
Edmond resident Amelia Taylor did everything right. When she was diagnosed with clinical depression, everything went wrong. With her crippling illness, regular work isn’t in the cards for her. A full-time mother, she works whenever and wherever she can to make ends meet, but her depression still holds her back. She’s not on welfare and she receives no child support for her 4-year-old daughter, Nadia. But she’s committed to making it work, saying, “Somehow, some way, the bills are going to get paid.”
Edmond resident Randon Payne’s story is equally heartbreaking. He owned his own heating and air-conditioning business. He saved for, and eventually bought, a house. He was living the American Dream. When he was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2006, his life unraveled.
“I moved into the house two years ago and that’s when I came down with my illness,” says Payne, “I was sick for about two weeks. I went to the hospital and they straight up told me, ‘No, you’re really sick. Your kidneys are shot’.”
The common thread in Payne and Taylor’s lives is Edmond’s own Hope Center, an organization devoted to helping those in need—those that others have left behind.
Says the Hope Center’s Director, Chris Sperry, “The Hope Center served approximately 60,000 people in 2007, of which 75% were women and children.”
Says Taylor, “If you know anything about depression, then you know it can be crippling. It’s worse than physical pain. A lot of people didn’t understand this, but Chris Sperry, the Director of the Hope Center, did. She understood completely. I felt like I finally had someone to turn to.”
Payne’s been close to death twice. While his medicine keeps him alive, it also deals out unimaginable hardship. His medicine comes with cornucopia of side effects and his illness prevents him from working. The state of Oklahoma hasn’t been a big help for him. To pay medical bills he gave up his house and his business. And he turned to Edmond’s Hope Center to help him through his trying times. True to its name, the center has given him hope. He thanks God every day for it.
“I couldn’t work anymore. After the medical bills started coming, the money just dried up. The state wouldn’t help me. I’ve got some outrageous bills,” says Payne, “The expenses are astronomical. I had a bill for my dialysis that totaled $50,000. I lost my house to the medical payments.”
Payne is an inch away from the kidney transplant he needs to save his life. His twin brother volunteered to give up one of his kidneys for Payne, but Payne doesn’t have enough insurance to cover such an expensive procedure. There’s a clock on his life, and if the insurance doesn’t come through, it’ll keep ticking. But the Hope Center has helped him get this far and he’s not ready to throw in the towel.
“Once I get that transplant I can get my life back on track,” says Payne, “I can work. I can get my house back.”
Taylor’s as thankful as Payne for the help the Hope Center has given her. “The Hope Center has never quit me,” she says, “They’ve helped with Christmas and birthday presents for Nadia, toiletries, food, utilities, everything we’ve needed.”
Edmond’s Hope Center isn’t here for just handouts. “The Hope Center strives to focus on long term solutions to client problems by requiring them to complete a specific plan to improve their situation, such as, look for employment, apply for disability, reduce expenses, or seek financial counseling,” says Sperry.
Despite rough times, Taylor pays the favor forward as often as possible. She allows friends that face equally hard times stay with her without charging room and board. Paying it forward is hard-wired into Taylor’s soul.
Taylor’s arrived at a new place in her life. A new fiancée gives her hope for the future and she, too, is thankful for her good fortune. But without significant help from the Hope Center, she wouldn’t have made it far enough to enjoy it. Her newfound stability puts her in a spot where she can pursue some of her dreams, including completing college.
“The Hope Center kept me going,” says Payne, “It instills exactly what the name says—hope. I’ve never had to ask for help before. It’s a humbling experience. But everybody there cares. I’ve got nothing but thanks for them.”