Unsung Hero: Neighbor to Neighbor

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By WSIL Reporter

HERRIN -- An Energy woman helps thousands of families in need despite experiencing tragedy herself.

Betty DeCoursey is the Coordinator of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program in Energy. She and her husband, along with other volunteers help provide necessary items to those less fortunate.

Often times they help victims of a house fire, domestic and
child abuse victims, and those who have fallen on hard times. DeCoursey knows first hand what it's like to need help.

"I had a fire and lost everything so I can definitely empathize with those who had a fire," said Coordinator Betty DeCoursey, "Even a toothbrush and toothpaste means everything."

The Neighbor-to-Neighbor program helps those in Southern Illinois all year long but at Christmas the need is even greater.

"We want to see the memories of a good Christmas might have an impact and change the future for a child," said Betty, "might make them realize that there are people out there that care."

Overflowing boxes of food and hundreds of gifts will fulfill the wishes of so many kids in southern Illinois. But their wish lists may surprise you.

"They're asking for blankets, one little guy wants the world's largest container of Peanut Butter, one kid last year asked for a case of hot dogs. When you have children that are asking for blankets, and warm clothes and food then you know something is wrong," said Betty, "They're not asking for game systems or toys, they want their needs met."

Betty relies heavily on donations from the community. Donations that Luanne Ponder and her co-workers so generously help provide.

"Everytime I took things over [to her house] I was so emotional and talking with her and her husband Jerry, he is so wonderful and they just dedicate their whole lives
to this," said volunteer and friend Luanne Ponder.

Betty doesn't want the attention on her or her husband.. She says their hope is that children will know the reason for the season, and they will learn at a young age how important it is to help your neighbors.

"I've had several people through the years that have told me the only thing that they had to hold on to were the memories of Christmases where we helped," said Betty, "and that sustained them through college and now they're working and have children of their own and are helping.. so it's a cycle."

"So many people have big hearts. They are out there and they are good people," said Ponder, "She just truly is my Unsung Hero."

If you would like to help the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program you can contact Betty at 618-942-5778 or 411 East Alexander, Energy, IL 62933.
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