Vickroy: Parish helps nurse dream
BY DONNA VICKROY email@example.com | (708) 633-5982 June 13, 2012 9:58PM
Lindsey Beham (right) and her mother Pat Ware at Christ Temple Baptist Church in Markham, Illinois, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Parishioners at St. Anne's Church helped Lindsey with transportation to her nursing classes. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
St. Anne’s Church, 16801 Dixie Highway, Hazel Crest; (708) 335-1792;
Together We Cope, 17010 Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park; (708) 633-5040;
Updated: July 15, 2012 6:17AM
Pat Ware and her daughter, Lindsey Beham, don’t have much in the way of material goods. No car. No extra cash. No big surprises come Christmastime.
But they’re rich in neighborly love.
“God may not come when you want him but he sure does when you need him,” Ware said.
Our story begins in December when Lindsey, 16, approached her mom about enrolling in an after-school certified nursing assistant program offered through South Suburban College.
The program culminates in a state license and opens the door for various job opportunities.
Though Lindsey, a junior-to-be at Thornwood High School, hopes to study psychology at the University of Illinois one day, she realized she needed to work if she’s going to get herself through college. A CNA certification might provide an edge in today’s tight job market.
“It’s tough out there; you have to have a backup plan,” Lindsey said.
Ware said, “I knew she needed to have a skill so if she ever needed to support herself, she’d be able to do that.”
Ware was excited about Lindsey’s interest in the program, but a predicament loomed large.
Thornwood would provide bus transportation to and from the college’s Oak Forest campus for the first half of the 18-week program, but students were to be delivered back to the South Holland high school after the Wednesday evening and all-day Saturday classes.
Lindsey, who lives in Hazel Crest, had no way to get home from there.
The second half of the program — clinicals, which Lindsey now has completed — took place at 101st Street and Kedzie Avenue in Evergreen Park. No bus was provided.
Ware, who earns minimum wage in her maintenance job at Christ Temple Baptist Church in Markham, doesn’t have a car. Still, the single parent was determined to find a way to help her only child participate.
“We’d come too far to give up over transportation,” she said.
Ware and Lindsey discussed various options. Ware could reach out to her 87-year-old father to help. Lindsey could take the Pace bus. But Ware worried for her safety, and about Pace’s reliability.
Finally, she contacted Together We Cope in Tinley Park. The social service organization had helped Ware out in the past.
Kaitlin Aldworth is case manager of TWC’s HUB program, a new service aimed at matching people’s needs with local resources. Because Lindsey and her mom live in Hazel Crest, Aldworth called St. Anne Catholic Church.
Enter Dora Castonguay, a parishioner and member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“This was such a positive thing. This girl really wanted to do this,” Castonguay said. “So I said, ‘How can we help?’ ”
Castonguay’s husband drove her once. Then Castonguay realized her neighbor and friend, Pat McGreal, worked at DePaul University’s satellite campus, located across the street from the South Suburban College extension in Oak Forest.
“I called Pat and said, ‘This girl needs a ride,’ and that was that,” Castonguay said.
Before long, Castonguay said, “We had a whole cadre of cars helping her.”
Then people started donating uniforms — pants, shirts, even shoes — for Lindsey to wear to clinicals.
Throughout the process, Ware was reconnected with an old high school friend, Liz Wakefield, who also pitched in with transportation.
“That day of the big snow, I got a call from Liz offering to pick Lindsey up at 6 a.m. and drive her to clinicals,” Ware said. “So amazing.”
Ware offered to pay $20 for each leg to offset the cost of gas, but none of the drivers would have it.
“I didn’t even really know these people, and they did all this,” Ware said. “They are good Samaritans.”
From the beginning, Ware said Lindsey has been a miracle child. After six failed pregnancies, doctors told Ware she would never have children. She refused to believe them.
At 38, she gave birth to Lindsey, who was born with eight tumors on her tiny body. She survived and has been amazing her mom ever since.
Lindsey struggles with severe asthma, but says her condition gave her special insight into the needs of the people she helped clean and care for during her clinicals at a nursing home.
“Even though it’s difficult work, you have to remember to be nice. People need that,” she said.
When Ware fell ill on Mother’s Day, it was Lindsey who nursed her back to health.
“She’s my pride and joy. She’s got a level head and she’s got lots of integrity,” Ware said. “It’s just me and her. But we are so blessed to know so many people who really care.”