Helping hands make all the difference

Tony Parra

The mid-day sunlight shined through the blinds and revealed what appeared to be a road map created from the wrinkles on the left side of his face — the face of 84-year-old Wayne Green.
As Green sat on the shiny cushion of his chair, he slouched at an angle. His seat rested on a red carpet covered in a flurry of black ash marks as if it was a wall, riddled with bullet holes from target practice. It was the creation of a smoking habit that Green had to quit because of his failing health condition.
The kitchen of his one-bedroom apartment at Portales Estates has white walls and a dustless tile floor. It appeared normal to anyone who visited, but Green said it was leaps and bounds from where he used to live.
Green said he lived in a house infested with roaches and mice. He said he rarely showered or cooked because of the infiltration.
One man, a friend of Green, realized that this was no way for a man to live. Walter “Cotton” Clark said he has known Green for almost 30 years and that they have been friends for over 15 years. He used to deliver groceries to Green and that’s when he noticed Green’s living situation.
“It was the worst cockroach-infested house I had ever seen,” Clark said with disgust. “There were cockroaches everywhere. There were even cockroaches in the icebox.”
Clark contacted Karen Allen, a Senior Social worker for Adult Protective Services of the Children, Youth and Families Department in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Not long after, Allen and Gloria Aguilar, supervisor for the Adult Protective Services Division, visited Green at his home. They said the horrific scene allowed them to convince Green he needed help.
“We help people who have physical disabilities who meet the income criteria,” said Allen the first week of February, which is homemaker month nationwide. “We help combat the exploitation of adults, usually who are elderly and disabled. His was a case of neglect.”
Allen said the Adult Services Department has a homemaker in their homemaker program who visits her clients once a week, but Allen realized that wouldn’t be enough for Green’s well-being. She got Green in touch with Options Services, INC.
Options Services provides assistance, which is paid for by the Medicaid Personal Care Option, with hygiene, eating, mobility, meal preparation and household services. The service is funded by state and federal dollars.
“Mr. Green needed someone who could attend to him six or seven days out of the week,” Allen said.
That’s where “Bill” comes in. Bill is the name Green gave his homemaker, Leo Chacon, who works for Options Services. Chacon prepares meals and does household chores for Green as part of the services he provides.
“I told him my name once, but I guess he heard Bill and that’s what he’s called me ever since,” Chacon said. “Him and I get along beautifully.”
Chacon drives to Green doctor’s appointments and recently spent time applying an ointment to sores on Green’s ankles, which have caused him a great deal of pain.
“My ankles burn,” Green said. “That’s the reason why I can’t sleep. It (sores) keeps eating at my ankles. The more it eats, the more it burns.”
Ankle sores are nothing compared to a moment that would have caused Green his life if it hadn’t been for Chacon, friends say. Chacon said he noticed something wrong with Green one day and took his pulse.
“I took his pulse and found that it was at 22,” Chacon said. “I took him to the hospital in Lubbock. He had surgery and had a pacemaker put in. He’s been a different man since. He’s doing a lot better.”
Heavy cigarette smoking is the cause for his red carpet being littered with black smoke burns and it is the cause for the pacemaker in Green’s chest.
Clark and Allen praised Chacon for his care and kindness. They say the system works, and Green is the perfect example.
“I don’t think he would be alive today if he would have been living in his old house,” Allen said. “Who would have found him?”
Green said he has lost touch with much of his family. His parents died in the ‘70s and his wife, who was deaf and mute, passed away in the ‘80s.
Green, who has been playing the guitar since he was 14, said he wrote a song for his wife before she passed away titled, “Put Me in Your Pocket.”
A snippet of the song lyrics are: “So put me in your pocket. Then I’ll be close to you. No more will I be lonely. Then my dreams will all come true.”
Green likes to forget the past, the days after his wife’s death and the days of his unhealthy living situation.
He now looks to the future.
“I don’t know much about my past,” Green said. “I’ve been through a lot and I forgot it all. It never existed in my mind. I forget about the past and think about the future.”
So now Green sits on his extra-cushioned chair in the kitchen of his sun-lit apartment, thinking about his future.
An entirely different world from the roach and mice haven he once called home.