Every month, like clockwork, Robert Beauchamp comes into Choice Financial in Walhalla and picks up his social security check. He’s an older man, upper 70’s, with graying hair and a crinkled smile. He doesn’t have much; an old shack in the woods, the clothes on his back, a car that barely runs. He is happy.
“He’s the kind of guy who will one day, go sit by the hill and go birdwatching,” said front line specialist LaRae Horgan. “He appreciates every day that he opens his eyes.”
LaRae and Karen Dumas, both front line specialists in Walhalla, see Robert during his monthly visits. They’ve grown to enjoy his positive spirit.
But last month when he came in, something was wrong. When he asked to collect his check, it wasn’t there.
LaRae called up the social security office, and found out that Robert needed to go through a re-verification process. The notices about the process, had been sent to the wrong address. Robert had no idea. Together, he and LaRae sat on the phone and worked through the information with the officer to straighten it out.
This was no easy phone call. The questions they asked dated back several years, and Robert was unsure of the answers. Any time LaRae had an answer that would help, she had to write it out, so that Robert could say it. If she said it, it was considered invalid because it wasn’t coming from him.
Overall, the call took 45 minutes. At last, between the two of them, they got everything taken care of, but Robert would still need to wait to receive the next check.
Karen looked at his account. He only had about five dollars, and the next check wouldn’t arrive for some time. Understandably, Robert was upset, since that was his only means of buying food. To make matters worse, Karen and LaRae also knew he was suffering from stage 4 kidney failure.
The Choice core value, “Do the right thing,” came to mind. Karen thought of her dad, around the same age as Robert, and how she would treat him. On her lunch break, Karen knew what to do.
First she stopped at the post office to make sure that when papers from the social security office arrived, they were not sent back. Robert still had to fill them out and send them back to get his checks again. Then, she headed to SuperMarket Foods and called her husband to explain the situation. He was supportive and even added a few more dollars into the mix.
Afterwards, Karen met up with Robert and presented him with a $100 gift card for groceries.
“This should hold you over until your check comes in,” she said.
Robert was overwhelmed.
“I have to re-pay you!” he said. “This is a loan.”
“No it’s a gift,” Karen said. “It’s for you, just until this is all worked out.”
Karen gave him a hug.
“I’m going to cry,” he said.
Karen felt the same. So she said a quick goodbye and left.
A few days later, Robert brought in a little white china pig that he had and gave it to her a token of thanks. Two weeks later, his check was deposited into his account.
“You’re good people,” Robert told LaRae and Karen. “Thank you.”