Timothy & Debbie Mills and their daughter, Samantha, are a local family who have been blessed by the food and heating assistance programs offered in Hancock County.
“They are a very sweet family,” Julie Newton, Volunteer Director of the Thrift Store & Food Pantry and Coordinator for Audubon Area Community Services said. “I met them when I first started with Audubon and through the Food Pantry about 6 years ago. They are so grateful of any assistance there is out there. They are just very welcoming and appreciative. They get to come through the Food Pantry monthly and are always appreciative of what they receive. We also have our yearly programs through my office for the heating assistance.”
Samantha (35) has a disease called Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder, which she was diagnosed with when she was only 2-years-old. “She cannot feed herself, dress herself or bathe herself,” Debbie said. “They said that she would never live to be a teen.“”They said she wouldn’t ever walk either,” Timothy said. But they were wrong about that too, because Samantha has learned how to walk. “She’s learned how to walk twice now,” he said. “Once through the disease and once through an accident she and I had almost 4 years ago.”
They were in a really bad car accident and went down an embankment and hit a tree. “I shattered my right hip and my right leg and broke my back,” Timothy said. “It broke her (Samantha’s) left leg and a piece of debris got into her left eye. She had surgery in Louisville. They put plates in. We kept telling the doctors that there was something wrong there because she couldn’t straighten her leg all the way. They kept telling us, ‘No, everything is fine. It’s just her.’
So we wind up taking her to the doctor in Evansville, Dr. Whitney at Tri-State Orthopedics, and he said if she walked before the accident that she should be able to walk now. And I asked him if the plates still needed to be in there now that she’s healed and he said no. I said, ‘Then let’s take them out.’ He said, ‘We’ll do that and I’ll lengthen the heel for it on her foot.’
They called Debbie to the recovery – we never let Samantha wake up from a surgery without one of us being there. We don’t know how she’s going to react. Dr. Whitney said, ‘As soon I removed those plates from her leg, her leg immediately straightened up. One of the hamstrings was caught behind the plate.’ I started bawlin’ because I knew we were right then. And after that, once she got healed up from all that – she took off like a rocket.”
Timothy is also disabled and cannot work. “I have a bad heart,” he said. “I’ve got congestive heart failure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and I’ve had my back broken twice through car accidents.”They go to the HC Food Pantry once a month. It isn’t enough to last them for the month, but they are very grateful for what they get. They also go to the other food pantries in the community and appreciate the additional food they receive from the Santa Sacks program.
“It has truly been a blessing to me, my family and the community,” Debbie said. “Julie goes above and beyond anything to help you out and if she can’t help you then she’ll try to send you to somebody who can help you.”
They also get the LIHEAP heating assistance as well as the Extra Food Giveaways. Julie is able to provide through Feeding America. “That is truly a blessing,” Timothy said. “Julie has brought so much to this community with doing stuff like that. I’m always telling her as soon as I pick-up, ‘Thank you and God bless you.’ Miss Julie does way more than what’s necessary. She goes through a lot with unappreciative people too, that think they should get more. And I’m just grateful to get what we get. I couldn’t wait to turn 60 to get the Senior Citizens (Food Commodity Program).”
They rent where they live. Debbie (56), Timothy and Samantha are all on disability and Samantha and Timothy also both get Social Security. “That’s how we pay our bills,” Debbie said.
Timothy was raised in Tampa, Florida. “My wife dragged me by the hair of the head,” he said, is how he ended up in Hancock County. Debbie’s parents are Daisy & Joe Pell. They have another daughter, Brittany Lewis (33). She is married and lives in Owensboro and they are blessed with 2 grandchildren.
If someone would like to buy some Christmas for Samantha this year, they can contact Julie Newton at 270-922-7580.
By Jennifer Wimmer