“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” – Abraham Lincoln
By Diana Clemente
Who among us isn’t hurting? Who among us isn’t worried? The most likely answer is, not many.
But there are always others who are hurting more, and whose situations are more dire. And it does my heart good to share a story of how many of my colleagues who are hurting just like those of you reading this article are hurting, nonetheless stepped up to the plate when I asked them to donate money to help Detective George Bender.
The Benders were strangers to me until I read a two-page spread in the Daily Newsabout how Wells Fargo was foreclosing on their home. George Bender, a decorated detective, had labored at the 9/11 site and then at the Staten Island landfill, engaging in activity locating human remains that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder so acute that he can barely leave his home.
Thanks to the herculean efforts of John Hodge, CEO of Tunnel to Towers, the Bender’s home was pulled off the auction block just days before the scheduled Wells Fargo foreclosure sale.
Notwithstanding, having potential buyers viewing their home from the street did little to alleviate the stress that both George and his lovely wife, Kristie, were living with.
And while I provided assistance to John Hodge gathering the letters and information he needed to convince Wells Fargo to refinance the Bender’s mortgage, my true contribution came next, and it was only realized because of the help of many.
You see, a contractor had left the Benders with no heat and their home was in dire need of repairs. I began seeking donations of labor and money, and I was amazed at how many people came through to assist. My plumber donated his time and restored the Bender’s heat before winter set in. Mr. T’s carting provided gratis services to remove items from the Bender’s home that needed to be trashed. And then I asked my fellow company presidents and others serving the industry for a monetary donation to pay for their costly repairs.
And they came through, despite the truthful reality that money is extremely tight for all of us. But it seems we all realized that, as bad as things are for us, that things were worse for the Benders. So, thanks to the generosity of my peers, who I am so proud to call friends, we collectively have made a difference, a great difference, in the life of a 9/11 hero and his family. I will always be grateful to each of you who have contributed so generously.
To everyone reading this article, what Abraham Lincoln said is true: The happiest parts of my day when I was attempting to raise money for the Bender’s project was each time I received a contribution email committing another donation. The rest of my world was troubled, but it was as if a bright ray of sunshine broke through.
So, for each of you who are also suffering, do a kind deed for someone else who has it worse off than you do. Perhaps buy warm socks at a 99 cents store and offer them to a homeless person, or help a friend in need. Allow a fellow driver to merge into your lane and feel good about it or perhaps volunteer at a soup kitchen.
You see, when you realize that you’re not alone with your problems and your worries and you help others, you’ll find that you’re helping yourself as well.
I’d like to be able to share uplifting stories in the future, and if you have a story to share that’s personal, or a story about someone else that’s inspirational, please share it with me and Neil Weiss at Black Car Newsfor possible inclusion in a future article. While collectively we represent an industry that’s hurting, we have always been an amazing community of hard-working and generous people who are fighting against what, at times, feel like insurmountable odds.
Notwithstanding, at the end of our life’s journey, our struggles will seem less severe in hind-sight and the good deeds we did will bring us warmth, satisfaction and joy.
Diana Clemente is President of the Black Car Assistance Corporation and Big Apple Car.