If you live in St. Tammany Parish you know there are no shortages of places to donate money for a good cause.
There are well over 100 non-profits and charity groups in the parish, all doing many different things to help others in need. So naturally they all need support in the way of local dollars.
I am connected to a majority of these groups since I am the person who gets contacted to publish stories about fundraisers, special events or simply getting a check mailed to an individual who may have run into a very difficult time.
My wife mentions how often our newspapers run stories about people needing help—and she is right. We do them all the time.
But I feel like the mission of The Slidell Independent and Tammany West is to use the papers for good—to help our community and the people in it any way we can—especially when we see a great need.
Out of all the stories like that I have done I have not seen any individual who deserves help more than a young woman named Mary Mayo.
Many of you immediately know the name as the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Deputy who was paralyzed from the chest down in a freak car accident that also saw her fiancé, Dep. Beau Rainer, killed when a giant pine tree crashed right on top of their police cruiser. The two were riding together to a funeral of another Sheriff’s Office deputy who had been killed in an accident only four days previously.
Mary was only 26 when the accident happened in 2007, and now 10 years later, she is determined to make a life for herself—although doing it all from the wheelchair that she will probably be in for the rest of her life.
When I interviewed Mary over two months ago it was to remind the community about her since she is now trying to raise $75,000 so she can purchase a specially equipped vehicle that will allow her to finally have a measure of freedom again. Otherwise, she continues to sit in her Folsom home day-after-day with almost no opportunity to ever leave. The only vehicle that has even taken her out is an aging car belonging to her father, which has no handicapped accessible features.
I did the story on Mary to try and increase the donations for her 2016 Ford Explorer SUV. At the time she had approximately $35,000 and thankfully the fund is now up to $55,000. But she still needs $20,000 to get to the goal and grant her the freedom which now could give her an actual professional career.
Mary went to college and was a great student in English. When I sat at her home and interviewed her in May we somehow got talking about the fact she needed to find a way to work since she was so young when the accident happened that she doesn’t have enough quarters of employment to qualify for Social Security.
She is currently working with an opportunity to be a newspaper reporter, but once again, to really do it completely, she needs that Ford Explorer.
Mary is now beginning to work on her writing skills and Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, along with Public Information Officer Trey Mahon are offering great help by getting her the police reports to turn into stories for our papers. I am beginning to coach her on her stories and I believe you will soon see her byline in our papers—but they are only stories she can do from home.
We desperately need someone, some business, some corporation in St. Tammany Parish to come forward with the final $20,000 for her. I know there are many individuals who could write that check today and I am asking one of you to step forward and help make this happen. I am doing all I can to help by getting her story out and now trying to help her work for me. But as I said at the beginning—I have never written a story about any organization or individual that deserved that helping hand more than Mary does.
She was a law enforcement officer who did her part in the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office and served this community, and now I am asking someone to step forward to help get this final $20,000 for her so she can get to work as a productive member of our society again—something she desperately wants to do. Whether one person writes the check, or a few of you combine to get it done, I hope we can soon report the good news of Mary getting her SUV.
If you would like to help you can contact Mary at 985-960-1506.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.