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Lehigh woman provides help

July 2, 2014
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Ann DeWitt has an interesting job, one that she loves dearly and says it gives her emotional rewards.

A resident of Broadmoor St., where she lives with her retired husband, Ann spends part of the time almost every day helping people to do things that they can't do for themselves.

"It a pleasure for me to things for others and I have no set of cost prices. I only charge them what I know is fair and that they can afford," she said.

Article Photos

Ann DeWitt

Her business is unique from others in Lehigh. She is on call all the time, just a phone call away, and she will jump in her car, well maybe not jump, but get in her car and off goes this 60-year-old woman to someone's house to do a hundred things that most people don't even think about.

"There are many residents who can't do things for themselves, from cooking and cleaning to personal hygiene, to not being able to write letters or not able to get to a doctor or to a grocery store," DeWitt said.

"I am here for those people who need help and they do not know where to turn to. Many of these people don't have families here in Florida and many don't have close friends who they can call on."

Ann and her husband have lived in Lehigh for around 25 years. They are from upstate New York and came here to help a sister-in-law to take care of her husband's mother, who is now deceased.

"We like the weather and we stayed here," she laughed.

Her past work includes helping people up north in New York. She was a special education teacher for years and that is what she has a college degree in. She also was closely associated with a group to help the retarded and was an instrumental part of making it a huge success when she served as director. During his working years, her husband was employed in the aluminum manufacturing business.

"What am I actually," she piped up.

"You can really call me a 'life skills helper' - that sums it up really," she said.

She noted that many people can't afford home health aides who spend time at their homes maybe because their insurance doesn't provide much coverage; there are people who need help in keeping their medications in order. Many times, the elderly will become mixed up about their medications and often many even forget to take them.

There are the elderly who are unable to cook their own meals and will go without food unless they get help. This is when people like Ann DeWitt step in and offers her services at what she calls a very fair rate.

"I've been certified by the police in the state ... people should be very careful in who they trust to do things for them. Sometimes an elderly person will call and ask if I will just come over to talk to them," she said.

"You can call me a housekeeper, too," she laughed. "There was this one gentleman whose wife was very ill and he just could not keep up with things and he called and asked for help. I went over and cleaned up his house and he was so happy afterwards," she said.

"I can help people get rid of stuff they have accumulated but don't have the energy to take it to the street for trash collection. All types of things like this is what I can offer," she said.

Once she cleaned out a refrigerator for an elderly person. It had not been cleared of old for some time.

"I spent my time getting a lot out of it and noticed that much of the food was bad and much of it was no more good because of the outdated dates on the packages, so I threw it all away.

"This person also had cabinets filled with food that she had bought over the years and much of the food was outdated and probably unsafe for her to eat, so I let her know and then discarded it," she said.

"I can even sit and crochet with someone who enjoys crocheting and I don't know anything about how to do it," she laughed. But just being there with that lady made her happy to not to be alone."

"There was one elderly woman who called me. She was in her 80s and was carrying a bucket to a well outside using a walker, struggling to bringing in water into her home because the plumbing inside didn't work.

"Well, I told her he shouldn't do that because she could be seriously injured. I got her water and I ended up getting someone who didn't rob her to fix her plumbing," she said.

"And like I said, I don't have a set fee. It really depends on what they can pay and oftentimes they can't afford much," she said.

"Some people will rip them off. I won't allow that to happen."

She was asked how people who needed her services could contact her and she said anyone who needs help or has any questions, to call 239-265-2163.

One of the things I often do is to take care of small children while their mother is able to get some time off for herself. Every mother needs that time and I love kids and I will watch over them for part of the day while mom is gone," she said.

"Home cooked meals, you name it; a trip to the doctor's office while I wait, a trip to a meeting or to church, anything I can do for someone to make life easier, I am able to do it and it is rewarding to me to be there for people," she said. "Actually helping others is inspirational to me."

"I have helped people bathe, helped them with their laundry. Who are you going to call when you need help? You can't call your children up north; they are not here. I am that person who can do whatever needs they may have."



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