At only 58 years of age, Robert is dying of emphysema. Completely house-bound with around the clock caregivers, Robert depends entirely on others to take care of him. But last summer one of his caregivers turned on him, taking advantage of a sick, fragile man. Robert lost his life savings, which helped supplement his meager income of only $710 a month in disability payments.
Without his savings, Robert was unable to pay his Seattle City Light bill and the charges began to rack up. While his usage is very modest at under $300 a year, despite using electricity 24 hours a day for his machines that regulate his breathing as well as his supplemental oxygen, Robert found himself facing a threatening shut-off from the utility company.
Fortunately for Robert, his resourceful new caregiver Antoinette knows many of the social services around Seattle. She got in touch with Byrd Barr Place and helped Robert apply for Energy Assistance. They were both dismayed to discover he only qualified for $44 under the federal program known as LIHEAP, not enough to prevent his disconnection, his literal lifeline to this world. But then Robert received a call from Byrd Barr Place, informing him of a Bridge the Gap donation of $200 to his account. Since Robert has trouble speaking due to his illness, Antoinette told Byrd Barr Place: “You all saved his life, because the machines would have been turned off. It was beautiful what y’all did. That made his day.” According to Antoinette, Robert was so excited that he even managed to stand up “and he doesn’t do that!”