Residents reach into pockets to aid displaced veteran

2014-07-18T05:02:00Z 2014-07-31T22:39:03Z Residents reach into pockets to aid displaced veteranJANELLE WETZSTEIN Napa Valley Register

Residents of Napa showed just what they are really made of this week, rallying to help a 97-year-old veteran who was forced into a homeless shelter because he couldn’t afford the cleaning fees from his former senior living facility.

James Farrell, a ukulele-playing veteran, had been living at the Redwood Retirement Residence in northwest Napa until he was evicted in early July. He had arranged to find new digs at Piner’s Nursing Home, with the help of Carol Eldridge, a local senior advocate with Senior Visionary Services.

The only problem was that Farrell needed to move into Piner immediately, but couldn’t afford to begin paying the new facility for another two weeks, thanks in part to a hefty $1,500 cleaning fee he had to pay to Redwood.

Farrell instead set up his new living situation at Piner’s and managed to get a room for a few nights at the Napa Motel 6, and then spent a few nights at the Hostess House at the Yountville Veterans home. Once he got down to his last $100, Farrell did the only thing he think to could do: he sought refuge at the South Napa Shelter for the Homeless.

But after his plight became news in a Napa Valley Register article posted online Thursday and in print on Friday, the residents of Napa began reaching into their pockets to help. According to Eldridge, a man who asked to remain anonymous covered Farrell’s rent for two weeks at Piner’s, so that he could move in Friday. Another woman donated $1,000 for any moving expenses Farrell might have. And another resident started up an Everribbon online fundraiser to aid Farrell’s cause.

“It’s been a pretty remarkable day,” Eldridge said Friday afternoon. “I woke up this morning thinking I’d be visiting him at the shelter, but the generous people of Napa have stepped forward, and he’s already in his new place.”

Farrell was pleased and amazed. “It’s an astonishing revelation,” he said. “I don’t know from whom this money came, but from the bottom of my heart, I feel a great gratitude. I would love to meet this person and thank them with a handshake.”

Eldridge said the outpouring of support just shows how special Napans are. “Napa embraces the seniors. It was so heartwarming to see that happen,” she said. “It really rocks when the community comes together like that.”

Longtime Napa resident Rachael Clark, who started the online fundraiser, agreed. Even though she had never met Farrell, she said she felt compelled to act when she heard about his predicament.

“Working at Redwood Retirement Community was one of my first jobs as a teenager,” said the event management coordinator who has lived in Napa for 41 years. “Being a part of the senior community was fun and I always loved working there. But I did not like the way the current management handled the situation. It’s not an acceptable thing to do to our senior citizens. So I started the page.”

To make a donation to the Everribbon fund for Farrell, visit

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. KukuiNut
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    KukuiNut - July 18, 2014 9:53 pm
    God is good. This only stems from the good of the heart which only God can bring out of us.

    I'll be donating for sure.
  2. napablogger
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    napablogger - July 18, 2014 11:37 pm
    This nursing facility needs to be investigated. Throwing someone out on the street who is 97 because they are messy and can't pay exorbitant cleaning bills is ridiculous.

    If it was for profits, it is another example of a market system that has lost its humanity.
  3. Veronna
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    Veronna - July 19, 2014 9:13 am
    Carol Eldridge really put "advocacy" into action in this case. Everyone should have a Carol in their corner!
  4. Oldtimenapan
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    Oldtimenapan - July 19, 2014 11:24 am
    Great job Carol. Hero of the month in my opinion!
  5. Mamyt
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    Mamyt - July 19, 2014 1:26 pm
    Thank you to all those who are helping and all those who wish they could!!!
  6. UncleStuy
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    UncleStuy - July 19, 2014 3:59 pm
    It is wonderful that every one helped this veteran. As an employee of Veteran's Affairs, I would encourage him to come to the Veteran's Service Center, to explore the possibility of further financial assistance. There are avenues of assistance that the VA can provide him. I wound highly recommend this.
  7. Hasavoice
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    Hasavoice - July 20, 2014 5:57 am
    Best news I have read in a long time! I'm so happy he has help and is feeling the support and appreciation he deserves.
  8. long time napan
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    long time napan - July 20, 2014 7:58 am
    I just wrote a comment regarding the new Administrator at Veterans Home....
    I will copy and paste that comment to this comment which will demonstrate case and point of why we have a real injustice in the system unknown to citizens and tax payers.
    "Here we go with the transparent promise again...recently I learned the Veteran's Home rents out the homes on the property to those other than Veterans for a ridiculously cheap monthly charge. This seems terribly wrong not only because we have Veterans that need the housing but the tax payers who are again subsidizing the chosen ones who can definitely afford to pay their own way. $750.00 a month for a home is not even close to market value especially for a non veteran. Rent could easily be $2,200. on the open market. We have Veterans that have fought in multiple wars living under a can this happen."
  9. Fleece Finder
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    Fleece Finder - July 20, 2014 1:16 pm
    Thank you Sean for my request to remove one article and reinstate the real news.
  10. blindside
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    blindside - July 20, 2014 9:50 pm
    OK, unless you know what was actually going on (and it's painfully obvious you don't) maybe you should ALL reserve comment. And no, it's none of your business.
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