Respecting and helping the elders is a tenet of most societies. And two entrants in the Close to My Heart contest certainly embody that attribute.
In Mary Ellen Busillo's case, it's her elderly parents who get her care and attention. "They're very special to me," she says, noting that they have been great role models for her three children. "They're pretty much homebound, so I have to drive from Fairfield to Milford and back just about every other day," says Busillo. Her 1996 Dodge Caravan is on its last legs, and she would use the $5,000 contest prize to upgrade to something more dependable. The matching charity prize would go to the Lower Fairfield Food Bank, which Busillo feels is "a wonderful organization." But whether she's selected for the prizes or not, Busillo and her parents won't come away empty-handed. "I'm going to print out all the comments that are submitted and make a scrapbook for them," she says.
Nancy McCormick's charity, ITNCoastalCT Inc., has been providing rides to senior citizens and visually impaired people only since November. But it's taken off, going from six to 30 to 80 rides a month in that time. "People are realizing they have an alternative to staying home and waiting for a friend or relative to drive them," she says, believing that the service will continue to grow as it becomes more established.
To that end, she would dedicate her prize winnings to ITNCoastal's Road Scholar program, which makes awards to enable low-income riders to use the service.
Close to My Heart celebrates Valentine's Day by allowing participants to share stories about someone who has touched their lives. Now through Feb. 13 readers can submit their stories. On Valentine's Day, a panel of three judges will choose 10 finalists. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, half of which goes to a local nonprofit of their choice. The other nine finalists will receive $500 each, with half of that also shared with a nonprofit of their choice.