Excerpt of the December 21,1989 Suburban Journal Article...
North Side Couple's Life Changed By Gifts Of Love.
By Patricia Cahalin
Journal Staff Writer
On a cold December morning just before Christmas last year, Frank and Dorothy Huff scraped enough pennies together to make a telephone call. That call changed their lives. The Huffs called Joan Gieson, who each year plans, organizes and hosts "The Gieson Family Christmas Dinner," which last year served 7,000 needy, elderly and homeless persons.
"Things were pretty bad," Frank said. "We were really struggling, honestly trying to make it." At the time, the Huffs lives with Frank's brother in what he described as a "crack house" on the city's North Side. "We had a room, just a little room.. It was cold up there," Frank said. "We didn't have a mailing address. We didn't have a phone. There was no food in the house, no ice box, no electricity.
"For Dorothy, it was a nightmare. All she had to look forward to was that room, that one little room. It was sad. It was really sad. "I would have gotten lost in the drugs," Frank said. "Dorothy probably would have just sat there until the meat fell off her bones waiting for me to get straight."Although at first Gieson's telephone line had been busy, Huff never gave up. After several attempts, he finally got through to her.
"Joan actually couldn't finish talking to us," Frank said. "I found out later she had begun to cry."Before hanging up, however, Gieson got a description of the two, found out where they were calling from and sent someone to pick them up."Sure enough, someone came in about a half hour," Franc said. "That struck me. It just felt good-somebody cared.
"Things just changed over night," he said. "When we left that day, we never went back. We never even went back to get our clothes. We decided we'd start everything new. "And Joan didn't ask any questions," Frank said. "She just took us at face value, accepted us and did what she could to help. Everybody else did, too. It just seemed like people rallied around us."After Gieson had picked up the Huffs, she fed them, registered them in a motel, paid for a week's stay, arranged job interviews, gave them spending money and eventually found a place for them to live. And during the past year, she has called periodically to check up on their needs.
"That really turned it around for us. That really gave us a start," Frank said. "I can't say enough about what Joan's done. It's been a selfless thing. She's not even trying to get anything out of it.""That's what makes life worth living - when you give to people who can't possibly give a thing back to you," Gieson said. "That's what life is all about."
With Gieson's help, Frank, 46, and Dorothy, 37, both found work. Today, the couple rents a home in Ferguson; they have food on the table and heat to keep warm. And Dorothy has her two children, Monique, 17, and Antoine, 13, back in her life."I never gave up hope in God," Dorothy said. "I knew he'd take care of me. Now I'm blessed with a job, a home, heat and food.
"After all that he's done form me, I know for sure he is alive," she said. "I knew he's there.Gieson credits her good deeds to God and her parents' upbringing. "When I was a little-bitty girl, I remember my mom and dad helping anyone in need," she said.
"It came very natural to me. God has just allowed me that understanding to reach out and see and help those in need," she said. The Huffs were no exception. "It's been a blessing to all of us who have watched the progress of their lives," Gieson said. "If we only have one family out of all the thousands that makes it, that's enough to keep us going." "After you get the help, you can't forget," Frank said. "You've got to pass it on. We've had a tremendous amount of help and a tremendous amount of love. And we're going to see that it's not wasted.
"Sometimes it just gets too much for you," Frank said. "I don't think we could have ever done this by ourselves. There was no place to start from. "You need people. You can't be afraid to ask for help," he said. "I was just looking for something for Dorothy to eat for Christmas. They gave us a whole lot more than that." Several items still are needed for this year's Gieson Family Christmas Dinner to be held at Normandy Junior High School. Needed are canned goods, turkeys, hams, flour, produce, soap, personal items and more. Volunteers also are needed.
Listen to Joan's Radio Program about this family
Frank Huff talks with Frank Gieson
The day that Frank and his wife Dorothy came in off the streets.
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