CQ, CQ, CQ………..calling all GCARA hams………
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the “shut-ins” in our club. These are people who can no longer navigate to go to the meeting’s under their own power but support the club and use the radio every day. Life and circumstances are not always kind to people but thanks to those who notice our situations and jump in to help, we are truly blessed. Ham radio cultivates this desire to help others and attracts such people in our midst. Such is the case of our favorite little ham, WB3ANE, Hope Smith.
Hope lost her significant other of 50 years, Donald Search W3AZD in March of 2020 and I happened to witness the tragedy of a cared for woman left alone to navigate all of her business by herself. I made sure Hope got to the hospital and Rehab, as did fellow ham Ricki Witte KJ4FSJ, or where ever Donald was while he suffered a bleed on his brain which ultimately took his life. He had a series of falls in 2019, the last one being at a restaurant in December of 2019. Up to then, their lives together was rich in friends, club meetings, club events and traveling. Don was Hope’s everything and her care giver. To lose him was devastating both for emotional reasons as well as practical ones. They had successfully navigated life as a team. Hope would make the phone arrangements and Don would drive and take care of the little things for both of them.
Everyone was familiar with the couple because they went everywhere together, including to Field Days when Don would stay up all night long making contacts while Hope patiently and lovingly watched him. We hams loved seeing them and tried to make their days comfortable when they joined us. In fact, it was hams who came to her rescue when Don was stricken down and unable to care for his personal business. Hams like Silent Key Roy Neiman KJ4EGN and his wife, took Hope in while Don was hospitalized and ultimately got her established at an upscale ALF in Tamarac where Hope would reside for 2 years after that. Roy had asked me to help care for Hope as he and his wife were about to travel so I took over from there, finding her an elder attorney and settling her personal matters. All was shaky at first because Hope was understandably depressed at her loss of her life partner and she resumed her activities in Ham radio by joining the 6 pm Traffic Net every day. She did so with the help of another ham, David Warner, KB4ICU who custom built an indoor free standing antenna which could be moved to wherever reception was best for her. Hope was in seventh heaven and I admire the antenna that David provided her and am thankful that he cared enough to do it.
Other hams in other clubs, collected funds and bought Don’s equipment so that Hope could reside in the new ALF until the financial assets were awarded. Don had put together a financial retirement package for he and Hope and his sister, Renna Reed, and the elder attorney helped Hope access those funds. For two years she lived in a fine ALF with comforts before that were unknown to Hope. She and Don had lived in a manufactured home of some age and recently partially destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Being older and somewhat helpless in those matters, the home was never repaired and Hope and Don resided there in privacy, others never knowing the disarray of their situation. When Don passed away, a group of hams, Kenny Hollenbeck KE4NC, Jeff Stahl K4BH, Jerry Deitch W4LST, Carol Sjursen KJ4AWB and Roy Neiman KJ4EGN went to the home and recovered their “treasures”, coins, cash and equipment. All was collected and cataloged for Hope’s financial security as each item was sold. Mike Spivak WB4RFC was instrumental in marketing some radios and equipment and passed the funds onto Hope, as was Kenny Hollenback KE4NC.
The ham community came together to lift Hope out of a sad and desperate situation and she was and is still full of gratitude.
Hope is now living in a Pompano Beach ALF called the “W” on SW 4th AVE. in a shared room with a woman that has since become her best friend, Betty. Betty shares Hope’s joy at joining the 6 PM Net at night and at other times, she gets on the radio to talk to both of their friends, Mike Wolf K2HXC and (Abe) Abraham Betesh W4FTL (faster than light). Hope always has some radio action going on in her room as she solicits others to join ham radio. She has talked up ham radio to EVERY EMPLOYEE, visitor or casual attendant. She proudly wears her badge labelling her as PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER. It is quite cute to see Hope talk to her physicians about Ham radio and give them her press clippings from a recent article in the June Pelican paper about Field Day. Hope is proud and delighted that the reporter chose her to interview there.
What can you do about people in HOPE’S situation? First, tell Melanie of the person who needs support and she and Hope will reach out to them to see if they are in need of technical help or just company. Hope loves to operate and talk on the radio as well as the phone and will keep in touch with people. We want our club to be a family oriented club with people to reach out to. Life is sometimes cruel and lonely but no one should ever have to be alone who is in our club.
Today, we covered Hope, next month someone else will be profiled and their phone number published so if you want to make contact with them you can. To reach Hope, or to make arrangements for a visit, please call her at 954-647-5713. She loves to talk and has a past rich in ham radio history, including her days at the ARRL. I, myself, have learned a lot more since meeting Hope.
Remember, a life filled with good people is a quality life. Amen.
Submitted by Melanie Fernandez KJ4VCT