Written by Linette Handschumaker, CEO of Evergreen Place
Many of us will never know the measure of the impact we have on other peoples’ lives. But every once in a while, maybe once in a lifetime, we get to experience the joy and profound gratitude our impact has on another human being’s life.
Curious? Let me explain.
Recently, while purging old files to make some storage space available, we found a file for a resident named Charles Gerrish.
Mr. Gerrish lived here in 1987 when he moved back to NH to be closer to family. Prior to living in Florida he was a Mason at the Rochester NH Lodge. When he moved into the Masonic Home, he assigned his assets to the Masonic Home, as was customary, including some US Savings Bonds. Mr. Gerrish died in 1988 at the age of 91. So, why didn’t the Masonic Home redeem the Bonds? One reason might be the Bonds wouldn’t mature until 2015 so the asset was being held to a later date. Or perhaps the fact that they were non-transferrable was a factor? We’ll never know.
Fast-forward 30 years. While looking through Charles Gerrish’s resident file we found several US Savings Bonds. However, we did not find his “Absolute Assignment of Assets” giving the Masonic Home any rights to the Bonds. We also discovered that the bonds are non-transferrable, meaning that only the Bond owner(s) can redeem the Bonds. Interesting point: Mr. Gerrish purchased $27,000 worth of U.S. Savings Bonds in 1985 for $13,500. The bonds matured in 2015 and are worth about $65,000.
So now what?
Well, the Bonds are payable to: Charles Gerrish or Betty Lu Martin.
So, who’s Betty Lu Martin? Well, thanks to the Internet we located Betty Lu. She is Charles Gerrish’s 3rd of 4 daughters. She lives in Kittery Maine and is 92 years old. Betty Lu is Order of Eastern Star, her husband was a Mason and her son, Henry Martin is a Mason at Naval Lodge in Kittery Maine.
I sent a letter to Betty Lu (certified mail) and left a voicemail message asking her to call me about some information we discovered regarding her father Charles. Her son Henry contacted me because I piqued his curiosity. He also said that his Mom, Betty Lu, was not well and having health issues. I asked Henry some questions and I was able to confirm Betty Lu’s identity. I then explained that these Bonds existed and he was speechless (literally). He agreed to talk with his mother about this matter. They agreed to come to the Masonic Home.
Here’s the moment of positive impact!
I met Betty Lu Martin and her son Henry today. Betty Lu has dementia, has difficulty walking and can no longer care for herself. She needs to move to an Assisted Living facility and wants to be near her family. The Assisted Living Home they chose requires her to have 18 months of assets in order to be a resident after which time she will qualify for Maine Medicaid. Betty Lu has about 1 year of assets and so her children were trying to come up with the funds to make up the difference for her.
Today at Evergreen Place, we changed Betty Lu Martin’s life when we gave her a most unexpected gift! The U.S. Savings Bonds that her father purchased 30 years ago. She was speechless and tears of gratitude welled up in her eyes. She understands that this gift is her father’s way of taking care of her after all these years. She is now able to move to the assisted living home near her family without her children worrying about where the remainder of the funds will come from for the cost of her care.
Now, just in case the thought crossed your mind that she agreed to give us the money, I’m sorry to disappoint. However, I did encourage her to donate to the Masonic Home in her father’s name if she is so inclined. Plus, after all these years and with no proof of asset assignation, it seemed a travesty to just let the Bonds remain in our possession without doing what they were meant to do…make a positive impact for someone!
Today we changed Betty Lu Martin’s life for the better! Charitable works outlive us all…with this, we came full circle from a Mason to his elder daughter and her family…all of whom are Masonic family members!
In the spirit of all that is good and wonderful about humanity, this was the right thing to do! I just could not anticipate how great an impact this was going to have on another person/family.