“I really don’t know what we would have done without their help.”

Dramatic sky and storm. Lightning hit the house. Power of nature concept.

“Every time I talk about her I want to cry,” Sandra Lowe says. The “her” she refers to is SOAR Founder and President Leslie Schultz. “Without Leslie, SOAR and our neighbors, I don’t know how we would have done it.”

During a powerful storm in October 2016, a power line was knocked out near the home of Sandra Lowe and her partner, Richard Wetzel. As a result, the electrical wiring and a large piece of their log cabin, located near Jefferson, were casualties as well. They were also living there with no running water. Much to their dismay, they were told the damage was beyond repair.

“With our limited resources, we didn’t have much choice,” Sandra recalled. “Thankfully, we had such nice neighbors. They let us use their generator and provided the necessary fuel, and they wouldn’t take anything for it.” Because the couple rely solely on Richard’s Social Security benefits, they weren’t in any position to pack up and move to another location.

Even with that chunk of the house missing, the sad reality was they had to stay. That generator became their lifeline, the only source to keep their refrigerator running to store perishable foods to ensure they were safe for consumption. One light and the TV were powered by the generator also.

Just when these dire living conditions were truly taking a toll on them, they received a call right before Thanksgiving from a SOAR volunteer saying their application had been received and SOAR would be delivering a holiday meal to the couple.

Sandra’s first question: “What application?” They hadn’t submitted an application for relief, but were incredibly grateful to the person who had done so on their behalf. Upon seeing the conditions of their situation, SOAR volunteers immediately made arrangements for the couple to stay at a hotel while taking measures to acquire temporary space for them at a federally subsidized apartment in Brunswick. SOAR paid the security deposit and the first two months’ rent.

Due to Richard’s medical conditions, SOAR also provided medical transport and a personal caregiver while Sandra and Richard stayed at the hotel. Additionally, the organization hired movers to transport their limited belongings, and supplemented those possessions with donated furniture, including a remote-operated hospital bed for Richard. SOAR also made sure the couple’s refrigerator and pantry were well stocked with food items.

When asked what the organization means to her, Sandra says “I really don’t know what we would have done without their help.” Richard chimes in, “We may have been homeless.” As for that application, Sandra says “It’s a mystery to me, but good things happen out of the blue. The help we got from SOAR is one of those things. We didn’t know what to do, and then along came Leslie. She’s our angel.”