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Fate brings unexpected help

Molly Shore

Even before he became ill, Mike Hele struggled to support himself and

his 14-year-old daughter, Allison. But when a growth on his neck

turned out to be a malignant tumor, Hele’s financial situation, as


well as his emotional state, hit rock bottom.

“When I got the diagnosis last summer, a lot of anger came out,”

Hele said.

After the anger and the “why me” stages subsided, depression set


in, intensified by the loss of his sales job and his health benefits,

Hele said.

With no money for rent or food, Hele’s 78-year-old mother and his

daughter showed up at the Burbank Temporary Aid Center seeking help.

The day before they arrived at the center, Stacy Schumacher, the

center’s administrative assistant, spoke with Kiwanis Club of Burbank

member Stephen Veres.

“He said, ‘If you find someone who needs ongoing assistance, refer


them to us,’ ” Schumacher said. “It was the Lord’s will. One day I

talked to Steve, and the next day they came to us.”

Once Veres -- chairman of the club’s Kiwanis Cares About Children

fund -- learned of Hele’s plight, he immediately helped with three

$100 gift cards to Ralphs.

“We’re very thankful for the Kiwanis,” Hele said. “I didn’t even

know what they were before this.”

Club members are now negotiating with Hele’s credit-card companies


and doctors to reduce monthly payments on his bills, Veres said.

“We just want to make their lives a little bit easier and remove

the stress from them,” Veres said.

Hele goes to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center once a week for

chemotherapy to reduce the size of the inoperable tumor. Doctors

there have given him a 40% chance of survival, Hele said.

Kiwanis is sponsoring a fund-raising dinner Monday evening at

Genio’s restaurant, 1420 W. Olive Ave.

Diners are requested to notate “Kiwanis” on their bills, and 15%

of the tab will be donated to the organization, Veres said.

Kiwanis is also banding together with the Burbank High School Key

Club for a fund-raiser Wednesday evening at Sharky’s Mexican Grill,

1791 N. Victory Place. The notation on this bill for the 15%

contribution should read, “BHS Key Club.”

To donate directly to Kiwanis, mail checks to: Kiwanis Club of

Burbank, P. O. Box 1922, Burbank, CA 91507.