This is my new Friend Cynthia Solita. We met at Golds Gym in Charlotte, NC. She’s an 85-year-old woman originally from the island of St. Lucia and she works out 2-4 times a week believe it or not! Solita takes full advantage of Medicare’s SilverSneakers™ program for the elderly and doesn’t pay anything out of pocket for her membership. I spoke to Solita one day after noticing that she had a beauty mark in the same spot as mine. Crazy!
Golds Gym is where Solita had been taking her daily showers. You see, she’s been homeless for the past 12+ years. Essentially, she was the victim of Mortgage loan fraud and lost her home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL during the Recession. For the past 8 years she mainly lived out of her car and storage unit she rents. She came to Charlotte, NC a little over a year ago after her car broke down and was retained by the mechanic after she couldn’t afford the repairs
Solita says she thought that Charlotte was a “holy city” since it’s where Billy Graham was born, but her luck didn’t get any better after her arrival. She was assaulted by two women at the @SalvationArmyUS facility where she stayed for a while. She’s now losing sight in her left eye requiring surgery and dental work for a broken tooth after the attack. Solita filed a police report documenting the incident, however @SalvationArmyUS refused to cooperate and provide the names of her assailants. She had been in/out of other shelters and sleeping outside for the months.
I would see Solita at the gym often and would never guess she was homeless. She’s a woman of dignity and pride and simply isn’t your traditional homeless person. As a retired nurse she receives about $840 in monthly Social Security, which you can imagine simply isn’t enough to live. She never had any children and doesn’t have much family.
I had taken Solita out for lunch one day after the gym and gave her a ride to the Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte where they transport the homeless to different organizations to eat and sleep for the evening. I cried like a baby the entire way home that day thinking how I left her there in the cold rain to stand in line with a walker while suffering from bronchitis, all while I had an empty bedroom with a bed and bathroom that I use as a closet at home. I thought about how easy it is for one to become displaced. I thought about how I haven’t had any children yet and what if I never do, who would take care of me? I thought about how blessed I am to have family and friends that love and care about my well-being. Everyone just isn’t that fortunate, and NO ONE is exempt from real life events.
We had exchanged phone numbers and she called to check on me that evening to assure I got home safe. I told her then that I would be picking her up in the morning and she could stay with me if she liked until we find her some assistance. I find it interesting how there’s a lot of non-profit organizations geared toward helping the homeless that receive donations for their services, but not one between NC and FL could seem to help one old lady with a place to live?
She’s been holding onto her lifelong possessions, paying a storage bill at SmartStop Storage in Boynton Beach, FL. She previously missed a few payments and received a call that her storage will be auctioned off this week.
I’m now trying to raise money to be able to transition Ms. Rismay into a place of her own. I’m asking that you all consider donating, but honestly simply sharing her story or providing info on any resources you know of that may be able to assist will also suffice. Thank you!!
(I previously tried raising money on GoFund Me, only raised $271 which I gave to her for her bday Oct 3rd. We are literally currently in a uhaul with all her things. I booked me a one way ticket back to NC. I don’t feel good at all dropping her off in FL l, but this is per her request. My life is changing and I’ve literally dug A financial hole taking care of someone else. Taking her to Fl is my last effort to help her. If I could afford to pay her a 1 bedroom for the rest of the time she’s on this earth, I would. She’s been with me 13 months. Real help needed ~AJ)