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When Called To Action

How my friend's senior abuse story has changed my life

By Zel HarrisonPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
When Called To Action
Photo by Tim Doerfler on Unsplash

You can't help but reach out to support someone in need. After all we are the family of human kind. Sometimes it requires an intuition or observation to put you in action. Many times I get very quite and ask:

Who can I help today? *

Who will benefit from a good deed or reaching out

Eddie is an incredible man. He is the oldest guy in our group of friends and has been a very important part of the art world in South Miami. For many years, he bought and sold artwork, and then volunteered in classrooms teaching children about art history. He is an all-around guy, and a good friend.

Years ago, he was the first to lend a helping hand when any one of his friends had an emotional challenge, break-up, or rotten day. He would drive over with a bag of homemade soups, lasagna, and a funny story. You would be so happy to see him, and hear his comic shtick that you couldn’t be sad. Sometimes he got us all together, and we snuck popcorn and roast beef sandwiches into the movies. We would laugh hysterically about our antics, and then go out for triple decker ice cream cones at 31 Flavors.

This last couple of years have changed a lot of things with the pandemic. The whole group of us has dwindled for many reasons. I have moved away and unfortunately lost touch with so many people as my own work and keeping my life organized took over. We manage however to face time on occasion, and talk to each other about the old times.

Very simply stated, Eddie’s fate has been compromised by senior abuse scams and very innocently got sucked into a few years of financial demise. My stories, are typically lighter, but on this cold blustery night, I felt it important to bring it to everyone’s attention with my own crie de jere to keep your eye out for scams that you or family members may encounter.

As writers we would find the layers of criminal activity in this story fascinating, but reality bites. Each situation is unique, impacts the people involved and so many times strips them of their life’s savings, their spirit, and leaves them at the mercy of family or government agencies. Although many of my stories that I present on Vocal are upbeat, this is a toughie, but I felt it needed to be documented.

It has called me to action in a very different way than how I typically operate, but when push comes to shove or there is a problem that I can be involved with to help in a positive way. I am going to get onboard.

About five years ago, Eddie was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but went to a community center to swim, began eating whole foods, and saw a series of great doctors. The disease went into a remission period.

Recently, he told me that his old car was acting up a little and he couldn’t get to his friends to check up on their lives. He had received a call from a recognized company, or so he thought, that typically gives away a large sum of money upon entering a contest. The fake company sold Eddie a bill of goods, and told him that if he gives them his car, they would offer him the most expensive Mercedes on the market, plus a new cell phone and brief case full of money. Months ago, I called Eddie, and he said, “They have my car, and my bank account information and I answered all of their questions”. I told my friend that this sounded serious, but he was convinced without a shadow of doubt, that he was going to receive a car and several millions of dollars. By this time my friend was receiving SSI, support from the government, and a small veteran’s stipend each month. He was also working with a fantastic social worker, who offered as much guidance and direction to protect Eddie’s finances, and redirect his outcome.

On the day I called, the scammers were actually in his apartment and had dropped off a large suitcase which turned out to be packed with books, not money. I still wonder why this exchange took place.

They were looking at his phone, and my concern was that they were taking my number and personal info as well as everyone else Eddie knew. At this point, I asked Eddie if I could call the Fraud department at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and file a citizen complaint which I did, but was told that because I was not actually a witness, Eddie needed to follow up, and create a case for fraud.

What infuriates me is that these scammers convinced Eddie to provide them with account information, and they took his entire check of $ 750, or perhaps a little more out of the account. He was left bone dry. Our group, put our heads together, and we decided that we were going to intervene for a few months until Eddie could segregate his accounts, change a phone number and do whatever he could from disconnecting from the scam network. It’s hard for me to talk about myself, but if you ask if what steps, or have I discovered something about my authentic self, I would say absolutely. A group of us, a village, a concerned family unit, a neighbor next door, a community, and two strangers can do a whole lot of good when a goal is set before us. To date I have been able to pay for Eddie's, rent, which is not a lot, but at least he will not be evicted. Other friends, brought baskets with fresh fruit and veggies to Eddie, and the social worker has found an itinerant program to teach and alert seniors about the dangers of scam artists. My spirit tells me that Eddie is very lonely in these times. In my discussions with him, I have been able to contact family members who have now reached out to Eddie after many years, and are healing many memories.

The children in the family have come to visit their uncle, and have brought pictures of their art work in school, and have shared what is happening in their lives. For the moment there is a quelling and Eddie’s needs are being met. Will this be an ongoing process? Absolutely. I have decided that in and above my usual style, I won’t walk away. Eddie is a diamond and he is loved very much.

*************************************

If you suspect that family or friends are experiencing an Elder Abuse situation you can contact: 1- 833–372–8311

Report the situation to your local police dept/ fraud division

humanity

About the Creator

Zel Harrison

I travel with a nap sack on my back to gather stories and sit in the circle of humanity.

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    Zel HarrisonWritten by Zel Harrison

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