Rotary Club founder Paul Harris once said, “Great things happen when good people come together.” Every day, hundreds of APS staff “come together” with communities to help Texas’s most vulnerable citizens. Often they have to improvise, doing their best to help one person at a time by coordinating services on the spot.
Gerald Liston of Sweetwater was suffering from a life-threatening form of lung cancer and was thrilled when his doctor told him he could get treatments that could greatly increase his chances of survival. But, there was one catch—the treatment was only available in Dallas - 250 miles from home. He was already traveling unaided to Abilene to receive chemotherapy - a 45 minute drive. But the treatments in Dallas would require overnight stays. Without regular support from family or friends, he turned to Adult Protective Services.
“I knew he didn’t have transportation or money to stay in Dallas, so I worked with the medical staff to figure out how he could get it,” said Sara Hulcy, his APS caseworker. “I asked how other people did it and was told patients usually came with family. That was the problem - he didn’t have any family to go with him or money for staying overnight. He had to be an outpatient for 6 days, but it ended up being almost 3 weeks.”
Hulcy said collaboration was the key to success. A social worker at the treatment center told her about Ark House, which provides temporary, low-cost housing for families during extended medical treatment at area hospitals. “They didn’t have an opening at first, so we had to put off his treatment for three weeks,” said Hulcy. “The only thing he could eat was Ensure and we weren’t sure how we were going to get that. So the Ark House told me about the Guardian Angels, an organization that got a volunteer to shop for him.”
Hulcy said that the American Cancer Society also helped by paying for taxi rides from Ark House to get the treatment. “A lot of people came together to make it all possible,” she said. “When he returned to Sweetwater, he looked and felt better. Color returned to his face. The jury is still out but he got the chance for treatment and APS made that possible. The best thing of all is Mr. Liston and I developed a friendship. We keep in touch and he knows if he needs help he can call APS and we’ll be there. “
“People at Adult Protective Services have been very generous,” Liston said. “They have seen that all my needs were met. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It made me feel pretty good, you know. I don’t have much but APS did things for me. I don’t have any family to speak of - but now I have a bunch of friends and they all pitched in and helped me. I didn’t go hungry, didn’t have to worry for nothing. A lot of people were for me. I couldn’t have made it by myself. When all these people came in and helped, they made me feel worth something. I guess my ‘family’ now is people like Sara who are there for me.”