The 11th annual Helping Hearts campaign is well under way, thanks to Pettis County Public Administrator Charli Ackerman.
Helping Hearts is a fund-raiser to assist her approximately 140 clients with unplanned expenses throughout the year (moving costs, dental expenses, things that Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay for, etc).
“Each year the fund is pretty much depleted, so getting this little pot of money is very, very helpful,” Ackerman said on Friday. “I just don’t know what I would do without it.”
All the clients she is charged with originate in Pettis County, she explained. “Anyone that I’ve been assigned or appointed to is through Pettis County Circuit Probate Court.”
She has to move them out of Pettis County on occasion due to availability of proper facilities for any given individual. “It is really a matter of finding the right fit for them,” Ackerman noted.
Her clients, who range in age from 20 to 100, usually have no one else who is able, qualified or willing to take care of them, she explained. Many times, there are family member s who have tried very hard to help the situation.
But many times, she said, “it takes an outside person, rather than a family member, to make some of the hard decisions that need to be made.”
Ackerman said the process involves “tough love” which means making decisions based on the best interests of the client. “Whatever is best for that person, and sometimes that’s not always what they think is best for them,” she added. Many of her clients have mental illnesses and medical and conditions as well. “It’s big job, but I love it,” Ackerman stated. “I am in my third term, and God willing, I hope I can continue this until I want to retire … I can’t imagine ever not doing this. I love it.”
With the recent cuts in the federal food stamp program, Ackerman predicted she willing be using more of the money for groceries.
And her final statement Ackerman made on Valentine’s Day concerning Helping Hearts was this: “From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful to the people that have given to this little fund of mine over the past 10 years. I mean, I don’t get a whole lot of money (for my clients), but it’s just enough.” Photo by Randy Kirby, Sedalia Weekly Observer.