Monday, December 27, 2010
Help Me Howard: 2010
Every person that "Help Me Howard" helps does not appear on TV, and after you see many people on TV, Patrick and Howard keep helping them. How? It's tonight's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- The one thing you don't want to do during the holidays is disappoint kids, but Wannado City did.
Luis Baluja, Upset with Wannado City: "If they are giving me the cold shoulder, they are probably giving everybody the cold shoulder, and I just don't think that's the right thing to do."
The entertainment center opened the holiday season by revealing they were shutting down on Jan. 2. They also told people like Luis, who bought annual passes for their kids for next year, "Tough luck. We won't refund your money."
Luis Baluja: "So basically, Wannado doesn't wanna do."
Then our story aired.
The Miami Children's Museum called us and said, tell the kids who have a pass to Wannado City they can come to the children's museum for free.
Deborah Spiegelman, Miami Children's Museum: "Well, we feel bad for the families. It's the holiday season, and it's an opportunity to give back to the kids and the families in the community, so we are offering anyone who has a Wannado pass an opportunity to come and spend time at the children's museum."
Thanks to Spiegelman's generosity, your Wannado City pass will get you into the children's museum for free till the end of January.
Christine Young: "I am pregnant."
Speaking of kids, when we met Christine, she was in her last year of law school, single, pregnant and living off her student loan. She could not get any state help, because she was in law school.
Christine Young: "The law just seems ridiculous to me that as a student, you are categorically denied."
After our story aired, Christine got a little help and managed to squeak by. Christian was born, and not only did she graduate from law school, she passed the bar while eight months pregnant.
Christine Young: "It's been great. It was stressful, of course, because of everything not being the ideal situation, but when you have a blessing like Christian, then it kind of all goes away."
A lot of our stories turned out well this year.
Molly: "Free rent, I gave him clothes."
When a teenage friend of Molly's son got in trouble, she took him in and treated him like her own child. She even loaned him money, which he refused to repay. After we talked to him, he promised to start repaying, and he kept his word. So far, he has given Molly $300 and owes her $300 more.
Sherry: "This car has been totally cut in half."
When Sherry bought a car, she thought she had a deal. Turns out her 2009 coupe had been totaled and rebuilt. When she asked for her money back, the dealer repossessed it. After our story aired, he contacted Sherry and gave her back her $4,000 deposit plus another $1,000 for monthly payments she had made.
Jack: "We took out insurance for $1,800 on the material."
When Jack had to send brass fittings back to a company, he insured them, but when the materials disappeared, the postal service only paid him $300 instead of the $1,800 he had insured them for. After our story aired, he got another check for $1,500 from the postal service.
But we aren't successful every time.
Keith: "There were police officers and FBI at my house."
When Keith was a child, his stepfather testified in a murder case, and the family was put into the Witness Protection Program, a tough thing for a kid.
Keith: "You can't see your immediate family at all. You can't go to weddings. You lose touch with everybody."
When Keith grew up, he left Nebraska and returned to South Florida. He then asked the Witness Protection Program to change his school records from his phony name to his birth name so he could get a college degree. They said no. After Keith asked us to help, he says the Witness Protection Program again told him no, because he had talked to the media.
All right. That makes sense to a bureaucrat.
Another story that had a sad ending began 10 years ago.
Margaret Daigle: "I knew my chances of living was getting slimmer."
Margaret Daigle needed a $300,000 liver transplant, but she lived in Broward, where people who could not afford expensive transplants died. Many people and agencies joined us, and Jackson did the transplant Margaret would never have been able to afford.
Margaret Daigle: "Hey, that's my limo. Oh, my God."
Since Margaret had never been in a limo, we took her home in one.
She lived for eight years, coming by to say hi, calling to talk. The last time I talked to her, she sounded tired of the struggle of living with a transplant. A few weeks later, she went back to Louisiana, where she was from, and died. God bless you, Margaret.
But fortunately, not many Help Me Howards are life and death.
Nancy Daly, Habitat for Humanity: "Every penny from this store goes back into building Habitat homes."
A driver smashed through Habitat for Humanity's Broward Store.
Nancy Daly: "Habitat has insurance, but we have a $5,000 deductible."
The driver refused to pay. After we spoke to the Broward State Attorney's Office, they took him into court and a judge ordered him to pay $5,000 to Habitat for Humanity. That's the good news. The bad news: he has not paid and probably won't pay.
Patrick Fraser: "Has anybody offered to write you a check for $5,000?"
Nancy Daly: "No. Wouldn't that be lovely?"
And sometimes, Help Me Howard turns out even better than we could hope for.
Barney Hauf, TowBoat US: "When we saw the original Help Me Howard, we started to get to work to figure out a way to help out."
TowBoat US saw our story about Norma Petrone. A man had abandoned his 65-foot yacht on her dock. It sunk, dumping oil in the water, getting her fined and hauled to court by the city.
Norma Petrone: "Oh, I am so glad. You can't believe."
It would cost $50,000 to remove it. TowBoat US did it for free, got it down the canal where Fronte Crane Service pulled it out of the water and crushed it up.
And they are not they only kindhearted people.
Patrick Fraser: "What's it like to live without water to be able to bathe for three years?"
Gayle Sullivan: "It's misery and suffering."
Last week, we told you about Gayle Sullivan, who went broke caring for her family. Her water bill hit $3,200, an impossible amount for her to pay.
Paula Vickers, Second Chance Society: "I am not going to stop until her water is turned on."
Paula Vickers from the Second Chance Society did not stop. She contacted us. Our story aired.
Paula Vickers: "It went phenomenal, Patrick."
South Floridians flooded, sorry for the pun, flooded Paula's office with help.
Paula Vickers: "My program director said the phones were ringing off the wall. At least 20 to 25 people called, and they are still calling. People stopped by to give cash donations. Everyone was very, very moved by the story."
Patrick Fraser: "Gayle will now have running water. Norma will no longer have a sunken boat. Luis's kids will be able to play at the children's museum. The list goes on and on. Not a bad year for Help Me Howard."