There are plenty of social programs and private organizations in place to make sure that elderly Americans are taken care of even if their family is unable to provide assistance. In the case of 81-year-old Clarence Blackmon, a military veteran whose battle with cancer left him incredibly weak, the system was not enough, and Blackmon found himself home alone without the ability to even feed himself.
Blackmon, who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was allowed to return home this week after months of rigorous cancer treatments. He was alarmed to find that he had no food in his home, nor did he have the means to shop for groceries, as his illness left Blackmon in a wheelchair. Faced with the prospect of going hungry, Blackmon decided to call 911, where he spoke to Marilyn Hinson, an operator with a heart of gold.
Hinson listened to Blackmon’s sad request: “What I need is someone to get to the store and bring me some food because I have to eat something. I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair.” Another operator might have done the bare minimum to render care for Blackmon, but Hinson went above and beyond the call of duty.
After speaking with her supervisor, Hinson got permission to do Blackmon’s grocery shopping for him, spending the money out of her own pocket to feed the ailing vet. Hinson bought enough food to get him through the week and made ham sandwiches herself. She then got in touch with two police officers, who joined Hinson in delivering the food to Blackmon.
Blackmon could not believe the 911 operator’s generosity. “It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” he told WTVD, the local news station. Hinson’s kindness turned out to be a gift that kept on giving for Blackmon, as once the community at large found out about the vet’s situation, they turned out in droves to make sure that Blackmon’s refrigerator and pantry were well-stocked. Now, Blackmon has plenty of food, as well as a network of people who would gladly volunteer to help him out.
As for the failure of North Carolina’s social service department to properly care for Blackmon, WTVD discovered that a series of miscommunications between officials and Blackmon’s private rehab center was responsible for the vet falling between the cracks. Now, Blackmon is once again benefiting from the social services owed to him, and he has requested that any donations coming his way be routed to the Salvation Army instead.