The Importance of a Helping Hand

by Cathy Repola

It has been a tumultuous and difficult year for the entertainment industry and for this country as a whole. In times of uncertainty and worry, it is helpful to come together as a community. That sense of community can comfort our hearts and uplift our spirits. I feel it is one of our obligations as human beings to look at the plight of others, broaden our awareness and ultimately be moved to do something to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

I have never taken a personal privilege in the columns I have written for our magazine over the years, but I am going to do so this time. I do so solely because it is through this story that I can best demonstrate what I have described above. This is a story of a personal experience I recently had with the Motion Picture Television Fund. As you hopefully know by now, the Fund provides a huge array of services to this community and much of that has been––and will continue to be––written about in this magazine. I want to focus on one facet of the Fund.

My mom just turned 84 and, while she is in good health, it has been increasingly difficult for her to maneuver herself with her walker throughout her home and to tend to her daily tasks. My family was growing more concerned, and I reached out to the MPTF’s Elder Connection. We first had to establish my mom’s eligibility for the services. My father was fortunate enough to have earned a living in this business for nearly 30 years before his early death. Had she not qualified because of his years of service, she would have through mine.

A social worker from the Fund came to my mom’s home and met with her and me. We talked about her health, her day-to-day routines, her fears, her physical limitations, and her future. We walked through her home together and watched my mom maneuver throughout. A week later, an occupational therapist came to her home and we talked about ways to make it both safer and easier for my mom to get around. Getting someone who understands in-home care to see this was very helpful. Then, a woman from Rebuilding Together (also a part of the Fund) visited us. She took measurements for the ramps we had discussed adding to the house and evaluated the overall project, including what it would take to move forward on things we had decided to do. Ramps are not the only thing that the elderly will need installing or replacing, for instance, if their windows are old and worn this can be a hazard whether they are upstairs or downstairs. If this does get flagged up by social workers then it may be wise for the family to discuss Renewal by Andersen window replacement services or ones that are based in the immediate area, to make sure that everything within the home and outside is steady and secure for use.

Rebuilding Together is actively seeking elderly people who are in need of home improvements, whether it be rewiring some electrics, calling in companies like Paladin Plumbing for some new plumbing systems, or perhaps some new windows and doors to keep them safe and warm. This is a call-out to our retirees and to all members who have aging parents.

Next, a retired member of another IATSE local who volunteers for this program came to my mom’s house and installed the safety bars. Later, two working members of two other IA locals who also volunteer for this program spent hours and hours building and installing ramps on her front porch and within the house. Finally, employees of the Fund came back and painted the outside ramps. My mom paid for the materials but the labor was all volunteer time.

While all of this was going on, the social worker helped us set up a medical alert phone system, provided us information on adult day-care centers and arranged for a “phone buddy” for my mom. “Phone buddies” are people who have worked in this industry and volunteer their time to make regular calls just to check in and say hi. My mom has grown very fond of her phone buddy and always looks forward to her calls. My family is so deeply grateful––not only for the services but most especially for the kindness and generosity of the hearts of the employees and volunteers associated with this program.

Now we come to why I wrote this. Rebuilding Together is actively seeking elderly people who are in need of home improvements and repairs to all parts of their homes. This could be roofing, driveways, or other issues that would require professional help from construction companies like Milwaukee Concrete Repair Services. This is a call-out to our retirees and to all members who have aging parents: There are people ready and waiting to help you. You can see all of the services the MPTF offers through its website, The Fund can be e-mailed from the website, or you can call them at 323-634-3860.

When Rebuilding Together projects are underway, we will notify our members as well, in case any of you want to volunteer. It is often easier to offer a hand to help someone in need than it is to ask for a hand be offered to you––but both experiences are extremely rewarding. Let’s all be hopeful that 2009 will be a good year for our members, this industry, our country and the world.