After raising families from previous marriages, Don & Loretta Carter were married in 1992 and got saved in 1995. They began attending Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale in 1999. The next year Loretta was hired to work in the Cafeteria. While there, Loretta poured into the lives of the young women she worked with, so much so, that they were asked by Doug to be the house parent for GirlsPlace, the foster home for up to 5 teenaged girls.
From 2003 – 2008, Don and Loretta cared for 26 young ladies. Loretta was tireless as she gave all of herself to these girls. As the young women grew and moved on, Don & Loretta stayed connected with many of them and continued to be a positive mentor in their lives. This is especially true with Gabby, who came to GirlsPlace at 16 yrs. old. Gabby “adopted” Don & Loretta as her parents and they still have that place of honor in her life today.
After retiring from GirlsPlace, Don & Loretta moved to Melbourne, FL. In July of 2012, they were enjoying a bicycle ride together when a stray dog ran in front of Loretta. Trying to avoid the dog, Loretta went over the handlebars and landed on her head Even though she was wearing a helmet it caused a catastrophic traumatic brain injury. Loretta was in a coma for several months and the doctors predicted that she would never be able to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator . Don had faith though and would not allow them to remove life support. Loretta proved them all wrong and not only came out of her coma, but has fought long and hard to regain the functioning she lost.
After 11 years of fighting with insurance companies for every minute of physical and neurological therapy, Loretta has re-learned some basic skills, such as feeding herself, assisting with transfers, and limited conversational skills. Although she has come a long way, she still requires 24 hour care and is fully dependent upon Don for everything. Don refuses to put Loretta in a nursing home or other facility because he knows she will not receive the care she deserves there. He has stayed home with her since the accident and cares for her.
Don’s level of unconditional love, commitment and unwavering faith is humbling to see. He relies on God to get him through all of the ups and downs and his faith is rock solid. But he still struggles with his grief, loss and depression at times. This kind of injury causes the victims and families to experience isolation as they are unable to participate in their previous activities. In addition, they have a very limited income because Don has been unable to work since the accident.
Don & Loretta are now in their golden years (Loretta is 72 and Don is 68). Caring for Loretta is becoming more difficult as Don ages and is now trying to care for Loretta as he rehabs his second total knee replacement.
To improve their quality of life, we are trying to raise money so that they can purchase a wheelchair accessible Winnebago Van. The cost of the vehicle is around $135,000
Getting this van will improve their lives in the following ways:
- Transferring Loretta in and out of their current vehicle is very hard on Don’s knees and back.
- Due to issues of urinary incontinence, Don is unable to be far from home. This limits their ability to go to friend’s homes for visits or meals or even running errands. The Winnebago has a bathroom equipped for Loretta’s needs as well as a way to change her clothing.
- Loretta cannot fly easily. This vehicle would enable them to travel to see family out of state more often. Don’s children live in Alabama and Gabby lives in Chicago.
- With the ability to be away from home more easily, Don & Loretta would be less isolated.
* All Donations are the property of Helping Hands Ministries and to be used at the discretion of Helping Hands Ministries.