Pay It Forward
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Paying It Forward: Loretta Menendian
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:06 PM CDT
A lot of our friends and neighbors are having difficulty making ends meet.
Many of you go out of your way to help one another.
We wanted to try something new to help pay it forward.
This is a story about how strong our Gulf Coast community is and how giving our Channel Three viewers are.
It all starts with a sign, $500, Channel Three's Lena Deflores and our partner, Hill Kelly Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep.
It ends with hugs, smiles and a surprise.
I stood in the parking lot of a strip mall in Niceville with a sign reading, "I'm giving away $500, ask me how."
A lot of people were interested in helping us pay it forward but couldn't think of anyone when I explained the rules.
You can't keep it for yourself.
You can't give it to a relative or anyone who lives with you.
It has to go to a friend or a neighbor that needs a little help.
and they have to be available right now for a very big surprise.
"Can't think of anyone right now?"
Then we met Terry Grainger who instantly had someone in mind.
He told us about his art teacher, Loretta Menendian.
"She's a widow, living off her social security, having to teach art. Income is really tight for her right now."
Loretta met her husband, Haig at a party who quickly swept her off her feet.
The two married and had two daughters, and five grandchildren, some of them are adopted with special needs.
The couple lived together for 33 years before Haig lost his battle with cancer.
her husband's passing, the 74 year old found herself teaching art to
help make ends meet, which hasn't always been easy to do.
Recently, she had to sell some of her jewelry for extra money.
"Do you think she'll be surprised?"
Miles Bentley with Hill Kelly Dodge Chrysler Jeep joined us for the reveal.
"I chose Loretta because she is such a hard worker, she's been struggling for such a long time to just keep ends meeting."
"I'd like to give you this money on behalf of Hill Kelly Dodge Chrysler Jeep, for you to give to your friend to pay it forward."
"I don't know what to say"
Loretta couldn't believe it, even as Terry counted out $500.
"I can't put it into words. It's just, It's just to know that there's people out there that care."
Loretta uses her talent as an artist to pay it forward in her own unique way.
She creates portraits of fallen police officers and firefighters and donates a portion of the proceeds to a memorial fund.
She says this surprise is something she'll never forget and can't wait to share with her other students.
very blessed. I feel very blessed. I know my students love me and I
love them, you know. They're my family, they're my family."
"Pay it forward."
After meeting Terry and Loretta, I could tell they really are like family.
In fact, Loretta's students call her "Mama Art"
says she'll use the money to replace her computer that died earlier in
the day and for some home repairs she's been postponing.
How do you pay it forward?
If you have ideas or suggestions on how others can pay it forward, share your story with us on Facebook.
A special thank you to our partner Hill-Kelly Dodge, Chrysler Jeep for making 'pay it forward' possible.
Though we don't know where or when, the giving will continue.
Look for Lena and her sign as we pay it forward.