‘You’re not forgotten’: Michigan residents respond to disabled Navy veteran’s Craigslist ad
Lansing State Journal
Kristan Obeng, Published
Sept. 18, 2019
OLIVET – The brain surgery Jeffrey Hempel underwent in August left the Navy veteran a physically changed man in need of assistance.
Jeff Hempel, 69, recovers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota after brain surgery in this undated photo. (Photo: Nora Hempel)
His tongue swelled, muffling his words.
The double vision that resulted post-surgery has prevented him from driving.
He no longer has the mobility needed to haul water and feed the 50 chickens, two goats and various rabbits on his 15-acre property in Olivet.
“My poor wife has to do everything,” Hempel said.
He decided he needed to sell his farm animals, a decision he struggled with.
“It’s hard on him because he loves ‘his girls’ as he calls (the animals),” Hempel’s wife, Nora, said.
The 69-year-old also found he could no longer chop and stack his own firewood, something he had been doing for 30 years.
Not wanting to be a burden, Hempel did something he rarely did: He asked for help.
Hempel posted an ad on Craigslist asking for help gathering and chopping firewood. The response was more than he expected. He received help from people across Michigan within 48 hours.
Two non-profits catering to military veterans united to help Hempel after discovering his Craigslist ad.
“(Jeff) said he called different organizations to get help, and they kept passing him around like a dollar bill,” stated Ed Henley of Fishing It Forward, a group that takes veterans fishing.
Morgan’s Hugs also wanted to ensure Hempel got the help he needed.
The organization was started by Morgan Scarbo, a 15-year-old whose father is a disabled veteran, according to the teenager’s mother, Deborah Scarbo.
“We just try to help veterans as best as we could,” said Deborah Scarbo. “Another friend, Trish Barker and her granddaughter, Lexi, are going to be delivering groceries we got for him. It’s a big team of people trying to help.”
The goal for both non-profits is to provide Hempel with enough firewood for two years, according to Henley.
Firefighters from the Springport Fire Department also assisted by transporting some of the firewood using their personal vehicles.
Another organization, New Horizon, provided meals to volunteers helping Hempel.
“It was unbelievably generous,” Hempel said. “I’m just shocked. I’m humbled.”
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