Sal Dimiceli, Sr., (second from left), his wife, Corinne (from the left) and daughters, Shannon and Shaelyn, grab a treat Refuge Café in Milwaukee where a smoothie is named after Sal. (Submitted photo)

The Time Is Now To Help brings renewed faith, sense of purpose

By Heather Ruenz

Staff writer

Sal Dimiceli knows he will help many people each year.

The founder of The Time Is Now To Help, though, knows the support of others makes that help possible.

“People often wonder if I see 500 people a year, how do I accomplish that. The answer is with the help of many, thanks to the giving hearts of many,” Dimiceli said.

In an effort to share the personal stories of a couple people who have been helped – in their own words – Dimiceli requested their permission to be interviewed. Their names have been changed at their request to protect their privacy.

A man, whom we’ll refer to as Brian, was seriously injured on the job a few years ago, had several surgeries and then lost his wife to kidney failure. He found himself disabled and a single father to two children, living in a home in need of major repairs.

“My wife was a diabetic and wasn’t even supposed to be able to have children. The pregnancies took a toll on her kidneys. The year after our second child was born, she had kidney and pancreas transplants but her body eventually rejected them so she had to go back on dialysis,” Brian said.

He had one hip replaced, followed by the other several months later. One month after the second hip replacement, just before Christmas that year, his wife died.

“I was a single dad to two children and because of a bone disease I had, I was now disabled. I pretty much thought my life was over and I was useless. I had been very active all my life but that came to a halt. I didn’t think I could be a good father, or a good man,” Brian said.

Adding to his troubles, the family’s only vehicle had broken down and there was no money to spare.

“There’s only so much I can do, being disabled, and a lot of it fell on the kids. We have caregivers that come in to help me out and one of them wrote Sal and told him I needed a vehicle,” Brian said.

Dimiceli paid a visit, helped out with some bills and found Brian another vehicle but that was just the beginning.

“He also saw the condition of the house when he was here. We really couldn’t afford to go anywhere else and places where we could afford the rent, didn’t have anything available,” Brian said.

Dimiceli discovered the landlord couldn’t afford to do all of the repairs to the roof. The two agreed to split the cost, so Brian and his kids could live in a home without a roof that was caving in, not to mention other concerns such as mold.

Dimiceli also enlisted the help of Jean Kruzan, a contractor, to replace the roof.

“I call Jean ‘Wonder Woman.’ She got people to tear the roof off, fix and replace the trusses and then put on a whole new roof,” Brian said.

But Kruzan wasn’t done, he soon discovered.

“She came inside to fix the ceiling from where the water damage was and it turned into a major remodeling project. She really wanted to make it more accessible for me to get around, and to make it easier on my kids, too,” Brian said.

Once distraught but now living in a safe home, Brian said he’s thankful every day for the blessings he’s received.

“From the caregiver to ask for help for us, to Sal to do everything he did and to get Jean involved, and all of what she’s done,” Brian said.

Since the home has been repaired and remodeled, Brian said his oldest child, a teenager, now has the entire upstairs, something Brian is happy about. He also said he now knows everything he’s been through happened for a reason.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids because of experiences I went through in my life. But it was God’s blessing that led me to my wife. She brought the Lord back into my life and two wonderful children. I’ve gone through periods of thinking there weren’t very many good people out there but there are,” Brian said.

Brian said he’s thankful every day.

“My life isn’t over, it’s just changed. I get to wake up every day and see the sun and all the Lord has created, and see my two kids every day and see the young, compassionate, caring people they are, that’s what matters,” Brian said.

Knowing his limitations – and accepting where he’s at – hasn’t come easy for Brian.

“The frustration, the pain, that’s normal but you have to let it go and not let it manifest in yourself. We keep moving forward. My kids and I don’t have much but what we do have, we appreciate. We also know things can happen in an instant to change your life so surround yourself with good, loving people who would do anything for you, just as you would for them. That’s all there is to it, really,” Brian said.

Brian said it’s difficult to find the words to express his gratitude, to Dimiceli, Kruzan, his caregivers and many others who have stepped in to help.

“The gratitude that I have for them coming into our lives and what they’ve done for us is indescribable. I can’t even find the words. Having good people come into your life restores your faith and helps you move forward. And it makes you want to help others because you know what it’s like to have people care about you. My kids are two of the most caring, compassionate people I’ve ever known and I know part of that comes from what we’ve been through,” Brian said.

Brian said he recently had a touching conversation with his oldest child that allowed him to share the lessons he himself has learned the past couple of years.

“We talked about how hard life is and how throwing your hands up in the air and giving up is the easy way to respond. The harder thing to do is to hold your head high and keep doing your best, knowing you’ve given it 100 percent. God will make it happen or not, but that’s the only way to do it,” Brian said.

Sal Dimiceli, Sr. (from the left), said his sons, Sal, Jr. and Sean, along with his wife, Corinne, and daughters, Shannon and Shaelyn (top photo) are all involved in helping people through The Time Is Now. (Submitted photo)

No longer alone

A woman we’ll call Amy has been dealt a lot of losses in her life, beginning with her mom – following a long struggle with cancer – when she was a teenager.

“Ten years after my mom died, I lost my brother and his girlfriend in a tragic accident. Then I lost my husband to a massive stroke, and not long after that, I lost my daughter to a drunk driver,” Amy said.

“After my husband died things started going downhill and they just got worse. I was trying to keep my head above water with our bills but it eventually caught up with me,” Amy said.

She ended up in foreclosure and lost everything but her clothes and her car.

“That’s when Sal came into the picture. I had written him a letter and told him the situation I was in. Sal paid for my living expenses so I could put money in the bank and get to where I am today,” Amy said.

Dimiceli also helped Amy find a job, and his kindness has changed her, she said.

“My whole life growing up was not easy and I grew up tough. He kind of helped turned the lion into the lamb, so to speak,” Amy said.

Amy said Dimiceli seems to check in with her at just the right time.

“I don’t have any family left. I can cry at the drop of a hat talking about this, but it’s hard when you don’t have anyone. Thankfully, I have Sal. His family has made me feel like family,” Amy said.

Amy said she’s found new purpose in helping Dimiceli help others.

“I have come across people who need help, like a single mother who … pays her bills but has no extra money. I told Sal about her and he asked what she needed. I said, ‘She just needs a Christmas for her kids,’ so he sent out gift cards. I told him about a couple that didn’t have any furniture and he sent them to Inspiration Ministries to pick some out,” Amy said.

She said Dimiceli tells her what she’s doing is important, and he’s easy to believe.

“He put my whole world right back on track and it was hard to know where to go. What do we do – do we give up? No, we’re going to fight through this. Once someone gives you that hope, you’ve got meaning and purpose in your life,” Amy said.

“Giving other people hope, there’s nothing better than having that in your life,” Amy added.

Dimiceli said those two stories are just a sample of situations he’s encountered.

“There are so many people we’ve helped. There was an elderly grandma who signed her check over to her son and was locked out of the home. She was found in her car, freezing, so we put her up in a hotel. Or the man who could never afford a dentist and was in pain because he had multiple cavities. We paid for him to have extensive dental work done and he is now free of pain,” he said.

Dimiceli said he takes comfort in knowing The Time Is Now is stronger than ever.

“My wife, Corinne, and I, who have been together for nearly 40 years, are here and will be doing this for a long time, but my sons, Sal, Jr. and Sean, and daughters, Shannon and Shaelyn, help a lot now, too,” he said.

“My definition of The Time Is Now is ‘community.’ We’re all in this together and it’s amazing how many lives we touch,” Dimiceli said.

 

How you can help

The Time Is Now To Help was created to alleviate the suffering of those facing economic hardship, whether is be through job loss, loss of a spouse who was the primary source of income, extreme medical expenses or other crises, according to the website.

Founded by Sal Dimiceli, Sr., the organization works with social service agencies, churches and private referrals – all of which are verified for legitimacy of the need – and helps people in any number of circumstances.

Dimiceli said growing up poor brought pain and shame to the family because his mother was too proud to ask for help. As he grew older, he began giving money to organizations that help people but was discouraged by how little of it reached the people needing help.

Eventually he started his own organization, The Time Is Now To Help. In the past 28 years, an average of 500 people annually have been helped with assistance including: restoring utility service, assisting with shelter costs, and supplying a variety of items needed, from blankets and heaters to food, toiletries, diapers, wheelchairs and vehicles or vehicle repairs.

Per The Time Is Now To Help’s Articles of Incorporation, no part of any of the monies benefit or are distributed to its officers or directors, there are no director’s fees or salaries, and no auto expenses or reimbursements are permitted.

Donations may be submitted through The Time Is Now To Help website at timeisnowtohelp.org or by mailing a check to: The Time Is Now To Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147.

Sal Dimiceli, Sr. is shown on the stage when he was named a CNN Top 10 Hero for his work through his organization, The Time Is Now To Help. (Submitted photo)

 
 

1 Comment

  1. Retired says:

    We prefer to Help those in need to MOVE to were they can Get jobs and Better Living Conditions..In many cases It is In another State..
    Band Aid Help is fine but it doesn’t solve the Long Term Problem..
    Keeping Up to date on Other Counties and States Employment Openings and Their Support Services is Vital..also having Real Estate Specialist that can help Sell a Property and even find ways to Improvie it with a Reverse Mortgage or a Home Elquity Line of Criedit loan to get it Property more Saleable..

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