Anita raised her daughter, Mistie, with a gracious and giving heart. “My mom would go without food so my friends could eat. She would cook dinners for people on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.” Each year, when a holiday was just around the corner, the Mother/Daughter duo would team-up, head to the store, and stock up on food for those who couldn’t feed themselves. It was a mission they had committed themselves to, even though money was always tight. The holiday tradition was almost as old as Mistie herself.

When Anita was diagnosed with cancer not too long ago, it was a devastating blow to the family. Still, Mistie couldn’t simply set aside the mission she’d been raised into. “You just want to do good from your heart and make sure others are eating.” Although her mother’s hospital bills showed no signs of abating, neither did the needs of the hungry all around her. What was one to do when life gave no easy way out?

When Anita came home from the hospital, Mistie took her into her own home. With funds cut short and the holidays fast approaching, Mistie took matters into her own hands. She had a homemade wheelchair ramp built but it was far from safe or steady. Sadly, it was their only option for the time being. When she heard about NeighborLink, she jumped at the chance to have a proper one constructed, but she still needed to raise enough funds to cover the material costs. And so she waited.

Around Thanksgiving, Mistie reached out to the New Haven, IN Police Department to see if there were families in need that could be helped through the Fraternal Order of Police’s annual Kops 4 Kids program. The program was being done differently due to COVID precautions, so Mistie was directed to the Adams Township Trustee’s Office, and anxiously jumped at the chance to provide meals for families in need. The Trustee’s Office was so impressed with her passion for the needy, they called and thanked the NHPD for sending Mistie their way. Through the Trustee’s Office, she was able to help two families with Thanksgiving dinners, among other families throughout the community. Offhandedly, Mistie mentioned that her mother was also undergoing a difficult struggle with cancer and mobility around her house.

The revelation was astounding to the New Haven Police Department and the Allen County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. Jen Blackburn, the Executive Assistant of the NHPD, did some digging and learned all about Mistie’s need for a permanent, safe ramp for her mother. After a few calls to Mitch McKinney, the Director of Leaving a Legacy, and Matt Newbauer, the President of the FOP Indiana Wayne Lodge 14, the trio believed they had a worthwhile idea: “How great would it be to give back to Mistie?” Jen Blackburn thought to herself. “She’s always so quick and willing to contribute to the community and we appreciate her family always helping out.”

After perusing the NeighborLink website, the representatives from the New Haven Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police, and Leaving a Legacy found all of the info they needed. It really was an easy decision at the end of the day: they would shoulder the financial burden of Mistie’s ramp on their own.

Last week, it was our joy and privilege to witness the get-together of Mistie, Jen, Mitch, and Matt as the check was officially turned over to NeighborLink’s Jeff Shatto, which covered the cost for the ramp that was built by the Carpenter’s Sons in December 2020.

If ever there was an example of community love, this is surely it.

The Waynedale News Staff
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