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Client Story

John’s Story

Written by Legal Aid WV


When John first heard about Legal Aid of WV (LAWV), he was at one of the most desperate places he’d ever been.

An unfortunate set of events where John couldn’t get the proper care for a sore on his leg led to its amputation. John has used a wheelchair since 2014 as a result and had a hard time getting around in a world where wheelchair users are not always considered. He relied heavily on his daughter and her boyfriend, who he lived with in Gallipolis Ferry, in Mason County, WV.  

One day, John’s daughter and her boyfriend got into an argument with him. They then told him they were going out to get breakfast and groceries but never returned. For days, John was alone in the house, running out of water and food and facing loss of all the utilities in the house. His daughter had taken the money in his bank account, too. He did not have a cell phone, but John used the landline while he still could to call for help.

“I called Adult Protective Services, and they said they couldn’t help. The woman I spoke with was really nice. She mentioned Legal Aid,” John says. “I had called every resource available, and Legal Aid was my last option. One day after that, Nancy called.”

Nancy is a Community Advocate at Legal Aid of WV and part of the Behavioral Health Advocacy program. She works with adults in West Virginia who need help with a variety of issues—her advocacy reaches far beyond legal issues, and she is not an attorney herself. Her first step was to visit John’s home to get the full picture of his situation.

“When she came to my house, I was in disarray,” John says. “I had two bottles of water left, and they were about to turn off my electricity. Nancy went out and got me some water and peanut butter and jelly.”

Shortly after their initial visit, Nancy called John about what to do next. She told him what he would need to move, and he explained he didn’t have an ID—no state identification, social security card, or birth certificate. Nancy got straight to work getting a copy of John’s documents, and a few days later, Nancy took John to the DMV to get a state ID.

“Nancy also took me out to the first restaurant I’d been to in nine years, and they had the best burgers.”

Nancy’s plan to get John into a more suitable living situation was in motion, but it took a few days to get things finalized at his new apartment. In the meantime, he had to stay in a shelter for a weekend after leaving his daughter’s home.

Finally, less than a month after meeting Nancy, John moved into a new apartment in Point Pleasant.

“It was scary at first,” John says. “But then I was glad to come here and get an apartment in my hometown.”

John brought one box with him into his new apartment, filled with sentimental items like his family photos. He and Nancy had a whole apartment to fill.

“When she brought me here that day and it was empty, I was overwhelmed with joy and thinking of things I could do. Nancy got quite a bit of furniture for me at the beginning. Everything else, I’ve been able to get on my own,” John explains. He and Nancy were able to get quite a few furnishings for free from the community or other residents in the building. “I’m not obsolete. I’m just missing a leg!

“I only paid for a few things like my TV, a cabinet. I’m so happy she got me in this apartment. I’m very appreciative for the help I got and she gave me.”

John is an outgoing, funny, and to-the-point person and was quick to make friends and become a fixture in the community of his new building. Not long after moving in, John recalls he was talking with some residents and someone mentioned he would be good at calling BINGO for the group.

The residents love playing BINGO, but the activity had been previously stopped due to the group’s “enthusiasm.”

John decided to take it on, and it instantly became the main event in the building.

“It’s like a gigantic community in here, but folks were screaming for something to do. So I call BINGO, and I say, ‘Everyone is going to have fun.’ I try to keep people entertained.”

John’s gone far beyond BINGO. He says people come to him when they have something to say because they know he has a voice and can get things done. He’s helped organize a building-wide picnic and has even introduced Nancy to other residents.

“I had a neighbor who moved in on my floor, and I realized how much help he needed,” says John. “I talked with his brother about it, and he seemed to try a few things, but nothing ever happened. So I asked Nancy, and of course she said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’”

Nancy visits the building periodically to check up on John and his neighbor. She knows the names of several folks in the building and greets everyone on her way in and out. And John is always happy to see her and sing her praises when given the chance.

“The only reason I agreed to share my story is because I wanted people to know if you’re in a situation that’s dire, there’s hope. It’s possible for you to go on—you can thrive. Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t move on.

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