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November 3, 2012

Local man helps a neighbor in need

MT. VERNON — Mary Hutcherson called to ask whether a story on a good Samaritan would be possible.

The Mt. Vernon woman shared her opinion that there are so few people who would do what her neighbor is doing for her.

Hutcherson recently returned home from critical care at the Good Samaritan Regional Health Center. Initially thought to be a stroke, Hutcherson learned she has multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s nervous system.

Hutcherson now has no feeling in her right leg or arm and needs the aid of a walker. Her vision and speech were also impaired, though she’s told her eyesight should return to normal. She is 52.

Harold Buford, on the other hand, can see just fine, or well enough to know he did not like the sight of seeing his longtime neighbor “crawling” to get up or down her porch stairs.

“He seen me struggling when I couldn’t get up the steps. He seen me crying. He seen me laying on the floor when I fell, and he just came over and said, ‘We’ll do this,’” Hutcherson said from that same front porch as Buford maneuvered wood beams for the ramp he is building for her.

A retired firefighter from Kansas, Buford started the project three days ago, already having removed a trunk and its thick roots to make room in the cramped yard. He’s also poured some concrete to serve as a foundation, and on Friday was preparing to place the ramp.  

Besides volunteering his time and labor, the 63-year-old Buford is also paying for all the supplies. Buford downplays his contribution, however, saying he would do anything for his next door neighbor of the last five or six years.

“It’s nothing special because she does everything for us. She’s always helped us. She always helps everybody,” he said.

A foster parent the last six years along with her husband Warren —  they have adopted three children the first three years ago, ages 8, 10 and 15 — Hutcherson is also a volunteer Jefferson County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children in the judicial system.

Warren has helped Buford when he can, though he works most days and admits he’s “not much of a carpenter.” Other than her volunteer work, Hutcherson does not work because of a back disability, though the couple does have health insurance.    

And they’re optimistic that the sclerosis can be contained and set into remission, but at the moment the possibility of another attack remains, she said. She remains thankful for what she has.

“You don’t find a lot of people that would  just come over and spend time and help you. I don’t know what I would do if he did not help me,” she said, adding that Buford is a regular volunteer at area food pantries.

  “Eddie (her children call Buford ‘uncle  Eddie’) is like an angel. I’ve been rewarded, and I hope there are a special pair of wings waiting for him,” she said.

There is, in the least, a story about a good Samaritan. Or is that Samaritans?

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