Statesman Season for Caring Women helps after loss of vision and death of her husband

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Season for Caring recipients BJ Lentz and Cheryl Selby were used to helping others and being self-reliant.

When their lives changed, they found themselves having to reach out to others for help.

Statesman Season for Caring tells the stories of local families and then helps hundreds more through local nonprofits. Lentz was nominated by Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, and Selby was nominated by Family Eldercare.

People often focus on giving to Season for Caring families who have young children. Donors haven’t paid as much attention to Lentz and Selby, who both have adult children and live alone.

For Lenz, who is called “The Beej” on stage by other musicians, her ability to be self-sufficient ended four years ago when she slipped on artificial ice while working at a holiday party. The concussion caused vision loss, first in one eye and then in the other.

Today she can see three-dimensional objects, but she has lost a lot of the ability to see light and color.

“My world has changed,” she said. “I wasn’t able to drive, read, see normal things.”

Read more: The musician lost most of her vision in a freak accident

The 61-year-old Lake Travis Independent School District music teacher said: “I’ve been giving, giving, giving my whole life, and it felt like it all came crashing down. I thought, ‘ Man, I guess I just give it all up.'”

She felt like a burden, she said. She was underperforming and had gone into a depression.

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Season for Caring: Cheryl Selby lives in an RV her husband lost 2 years ago

After the death of her husband, the widow could no longer afford her house and renovated a motorhome.

Nicole Villalpando, American statesman from Austin

Cheryl Selby, 70, said she fell into deep depression when her husband Sam died two years ago.

“Sam was a real Texan,” she said. He was 6ft 3in tall with long red hair and a long red beard. “He had a real sense of values.”

She met him at a bus stop. “It’s a true Austin love story,” Selby said.

Read more: Widowed cancer survivor nearly became homeless

Selby held a series of jobs, including as a counselor in the Texas prison system.

“I’ve always been very independent, I’ve always been very confident,” she said. “The last two years have really made me anxious about life, about how I’m going to survive, about how I’m going to have my independence.”

After Sam died, she had to seek help through Travis County when she struggled to pay her rent because it was more than her monthly Social Security check.

“I just couldn’t see how I could afford to live here,” she said, even though Austin is where her son, grandchildren and church family are.

She raised her hands and said a prayer. It was then that she heard of a broken down RV in Garfield that was available. The RV had no heat, no hot water, and a leaky roof, but it made a nice outdoor living space.

“I will find a way to make it work, and so far I have,” she said.

Hillcrest Baptist Church arrived after members heard about Selby as part of Season for Caring. They raised $15,000 to pay for a new RV with heat and hot water. They also helped fix his car and buy him two new tires.

Giving spirit: “Overwhelmed with blessing. Austin Church helps Family Eldercare senior warm up at home for winter

“Season for Caring is going to make life affordable for me and safe for me and my little dog,” Selby said.

Selby still has a few things on her wishlist, including an outdoor awning and gift cards for Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s and HEB.

To learn more about Selby or to donate an item on her wish list, contact Family Eldercare, 512-450-0844, familyeldercare.org.

For Lentz, being nominated and then chosen for Season for Caring seemed unbelievable.

“It’s such a wonderful thing…things were really on point,” she said. “It really lifts my spirits.”

Although she knows that right now she needs to ask others for help, especially for ride-sharing service gift cards and technology to make her house more voice-automated, she is encouraged.

“I just want to go out and give more to my students at school, to everyone, saying, ‘You know, there are good people there,'” she said. “I feel really good that someone else chose to be good to me so I could do it back.”

His Amazon wishlist includes a toaster oven, smart speakers, a smart TV for reading large print, a more accessible laptop for the visually impaired, and gift cards for Uber, Uber Eats and Door. Dash.

To learn more about Lentz or donate an item to his wishlist, contact Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, 512-541-4226, myhaam.org.

Donate to Statesman Season for Caring

Learn more about Season for Caring, read the stories of the featured families, and donate to statesman.com/seasonforcaring. You can also find a coupon to send a donation by mail at Page 2B.

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