skip navigation
Support KUOW
KUOW News

Charity One Person At A Time

Cathy Duchamp
02/27/2007

We all know someone who's a giver: the woman at church who organizes a blanket drive every winter, the man who always has a quarter for a homeless person on the street. For a Kent Washington woman, the desire to help others has become a calling. Correspondent Cathy Duchamp has this profile.

TRANSCRIPT

CARROLL: "We're heading out. We're gonna load up the truck and go have some fun. Because that's what really it's all about. Is just some fun."

KELLY CARROLL RUNS A CHARITY OUT OF HER HOME. IT'S CALLED "R PLACE OF REFUGE." HER MISSION: TO SPREAD RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS TO PEOPLE IN NEED. MOST OF THE TIME THE PEOPLE FIND HER. THE RANDOM ACTS MIGHT BE PAYING A LATE UTILITY BILL. OTHER TIMES SHE GIVES A SUPERMARKET GIFT CARD TO A HUNGRY FAMILY. THIS DAY WE'RE DELIVERING FOOD, CLOTHING AND FURNITURE TO A WOMAN WITH CANCER.

DUCHAMP: "So you're getting totally excited right now."

CARROLL: "Yes, I'm like really revved up now, just can't wait to see her face, just that impact, you only have one moment to capture it when somebody's looking like, 'What's going on?'"

CARROLL SAYS THAT ELEMENT OF SURPRISE BRINGS JOY TO TO THE PEOPLE SHE SERVES: THE HOMELESS, AND THE WORKING POOR. TO UNDERSTAND WHY CARROLL DOES WHAT SHE DOES, YOU HAVE TO GO BACK A COUPLE DECADES. CARROLL WAS A TEEN GROWING UP POOR IN SEATTLE'S CENTRAL AREA. SHE WAS ANGRY, AND FELT IGNORED BY HER MOM. SO SHE RAN AWAY. SHE SPENT THREE NIGHTS ON THE STREETS.

CARROLL: "I seen a lot of people sleeping in garbage cans and digging and I just thought to myself is this where I really want to be but I couldn't go back."

SO SHE CALLED HER GRANDMOTHER FROM A PAYPHONE.

CARROLL: "And I said I don't have no where to go. And she said, 'Stay right there, don't move, I'm on my way.' She said when I don't have nothing else to offer you, I may not have money I may not have anything else, but I'll always have a place for you to stay, a roof over your head, and some kind words."

CARROLL PAYS FORWARD HER GRANDMOTHERS GENEROSITY IN HER WORK TODAY. WE'RE NOW AT THE HOME OF THE WOMAN WITH CANCER- LISA WIRACHOWSKY. A SMALL ENTOURAGE OF VOLUNTEERS ACCOMPANIES CARROLL. IT FEELS LIKE WE'RE ON THE OPRAH SHOW.

CARROLL: "On behalf of myself an anonymous donor we paid up your life insurance for six months."

WIRACHOWSKY: "My life insurance?"

CARROLL: "Your life insurance for six months. I paid all your utilities for two months. On behalf of IKEA we got you brand new furniture for you, beds, and these are just volunteers wanted to take some of those tears away and give you a chance to just laugh and smile."

A COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE THIS, DOCTORS TOLD WIRACHOWSKY THERE WAS NOTHING MORE THEY COULD DO TO HELP HER WITH HER BONE CANCER. HER HUSBAND JACOB IS OUT OF WORK WITH A KNEE INJURY.

JACOB WIRACHOWSKY: "I don't have words to describe it. It's just amazing that some stranger would do that for us because we're going through hard times. I truly didn't believe there were people left like that in this world."

LISA WIRACHOWSKY: "When I'm at my worst time, she's like 'Don't give up and don't hang out with anyone that's negative. Try and stay positive and hang out with people who are positive.' So that really helps."

HELPS...AT A TIME OF HEARTBREAK. THE WIRACHOWSKY'S HAVE TWO BOYS, AGES THREE AND FOUR. KELLY CARROLL REALLY GETS WHAT'S GOING ON. SHE HAS A RESPIRATORY CONDITION WHERE HER LUNGS CAN COLLAPSE WITH LITTLE WARNING. SHE'S SPENT MONTHS AT A TIME IN THE HOSPITAL.

CARROLL: "It touches home for me because there's been so many times my family didn't know if I was gonna make it. So the fact that I did.. I want to be able to embrace her."

DUCHAMP: "Because you know where she is."

CARROLL: "Yeah. And I made a promise to myself that as long as I have breath if I can impact my volunteers where they'll driven by what they saw me do, by precept and example that they'll carry on the legacy the way I am for my grandma."

A LEGACY OF CHARITY ON A PERSONAL SCALE, FUNDED BY PRIVATE DONATIONS. I'M CATHY DUCHAMP REPORTING.

© Copyright 2007, KUOW

04.24.18

Schedules

spacer