Turning tragedy into triumph:
Dayton-area student uses his experience to help others through Miami Valley CAP
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” is a popular expression of which we’re often reminded when an unexpected event changes the course of our lives. It was never more true for Payne Sigman than on January 19, 2014.
The then Bellbrook High School junior and athlete was driving to church that Sunday morning when he lost control on an icy patch of road. The car spun off the road sideways and into a parked car before slamming into a tree. Despite the low speed of travel and wearing a seatbelt, Payne suffered a serious brain injury. His initial prognosis for survival was dim, according to medical staff who treated him upon arrival at the hospital. Payne spent the next 13 days in a coma as his family hoped and prayed for good news.
The Sigmans got the news they had hoped for: Payne was going to survive. However, the real struggle was just beginning.
“When I came out (of the coma), it took a while before the doctors thought I was ready to eat solid food again. I used tons of different walking mechanisms. I eventually moved to a walker and then a cane because my balance was so terrible,” Payne remembered.
Payne spent 72 days in hospitals and rehabilitation before finally going home on April 3rd. As the years went by, and Payne worked to overcome the physical and mental setbacks from the accident, he started to rethink and refocus on what he wanted to do with his life. Now a college student, Payne has shifted his focus from engineering to helping others more directly.
The Sigmans contacted family friend, and Miami Valley Community Action Partnership human resources director, Linda Bynum in hopes of finding a program that could use his talents. She recommended the Getting Ahead program, a 16-week course whose participants learn how to investigate the causes of poverty and barriers to success in their own lives. It made perfect sense to Payne, who is now majoring in psychology.
“That just really attracted me because I do want to help people in any way I can. The idea of helping those who are in need and struggling by helping to teach them skills just really interested me,” Payne said.
“As the weeks went on, Payne really embraced the stories (of the participants). He really engaged himself in the experience,” said LaVar Glover, who is the director and co-facilitator of the Getting Ahead program. “What I like most is that he started to share his own story, and people connected with that.”
“Through my car accident, I was put in a very difficult situation in which I really relied on the help of others. I realized that many of the people in poverty are in a very similar state where they feel almost helpless because they can’t get the resources they need. They have to reach out and ask for help,” Payne explained.
His involvement with Getting Ahead reaffirmed Payne’s new mission in life.
“I know it’s kind of a stereotype when people think of those in poverty,” Payne began. “They think ‘Oh, they’re just lazy.’ I’ve really come to know that’s definitely not true. Many of the people in poverty are there because of tragedies that require them to need the help.”
Bynum believes pairing Payne with Miami Valley CAP was the perfect match.
“He got just as much out of it as we got from him,” Bynum explained. “Payne doesn’t think he gave anything. He thinks he got the most, but he gave back.”
LIHEAP customer now “uplifted” by
Miami Valley CAP service
Miami Valley Community Action Partnership is highlighting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which assists low-income households with their heating and cooling bills year round, throughout August.
As part of that effort, the agency has started a postcard project that allows LIHEAP customers to tell Miami Valley CAP what they love about the program. The agency has already started getting postcards and drawings from adults and children, respectively, however, one recent postcard stood out. It exemplifies what Miami Valley CAP and LIHEAP are all about.
The unsigned postcard reads:
“I love that I was made to feel important in my time of need. I love that I came in broken, discouraged and hopeless. I was so scared my electric would be cut off that same day, and I left uplifted, hopeful and excited to go home and make my children dinner! My specialist was very kind and approachable. So many times, when you need help, people can make you feel even lower, but not here.”
If you are a LIHEAP customer, we’d love to hear your story and why you love LIHEAP as well. Postcards are available and can be filled out at the 719 S. Main St. location in Dayton. Customers can also comment on this story or go to the Miami Valley CAP Facebook page and leave their comments.
CAP teams up with youth organization to help seniors,
low-income households in Preble County
Poverty in the Miami Valley knows no city limits and adheres to no particular jurisdiction. That’s what makes the overall goal of Miami Valley Community Action Partnership (Miami Valley CAP) so much more daunting than some might see on the surface.
Janelle Caron, the director of Miami Valley CAP’s Preble County office in Eaton, saw a significant need to assist the community with home repairs throughout the rural area. However, it was too large of a task to tackle with her office alone. Recently teaming up with Group Cares, a faith-based organization specializing in sending work crews to complete home repairs and other projects for low-income households, Caron did something Miami Valley CAP had not done in Preble County before.
“This is the first time our agency has ever co-sponsored an event like this. It all came together very well,” Caron said of the new endeavor.
But this was no ordinary work crew; these were mostly teenagers from all over the country who chose to dedicate part of their summer to help others through their own sweat equity. That’s the what Group Mission Trips are all about.
“We try to just spread the light of the Word of God and help people as much as we can,” said Site Coordinator Peyton Booth, a college-aged teenager himself. “(It’s) mostly the elderly that need help, or people who don’t have the money to get professionals out here. So we do our best to try and get work done.”
Most of those projects include painting, rebuilding decks and stairs, and installing handrails to make it easier for seniors and the disabled to get around in their own home. Miami Valley CAP and Group Cares also had help locally from National Trail Schools, which provided lodging and food for more than 150 young workers, as well as Preble County families who volunteered to deliver supplies to roughly 30 work sites throughout the county.
Destiny Sapp of Camden was overjoyed with the work done for her by Group Mission Trips. “This weekend has meant a lot to me and my kids. Now my little ones can play on the porch without falling off. Thank you so much for what you have done for us.”
The last few years for Violet Kilgore of New Paris had been filled with enough sadness to test anyone’s faith. She had recently lost her husband, twin sister and other family members, and was due for a break. Kilgore got it through Group Mission Trips and Miami Valley CAP.
“My mother-in-law told me about (the program) and to try to apply for it. I did and I was granted, which I am very thankful for,” Kilgore, who suffers from fibromyalgia and heart problems among other ailments, said.
But it’s also the work crews who are grateful after seeing the results of their hard work.
“A lot of (the homeowners) don’t have many people that come and visit. No doubt, whenever we get the jobs done that we were here for, seeing the smiles on their faces, and spreading the Word of God are the best things we can get from this job,” Booth said.
The young work crew painted several ceilings and a couple rooms for Kilgore, and even did something not on the list. When the crew arrived they learned her mailbox had been hit and destroyed days before. Not content to leave the homeowner without a mailbox, the crew stayed later to install a new one.
“I appreciate everything more because I’ve had a rough life. I’m so glad that there was some people to help me while I’m down. I feel so much better,” Kilgore said.
“Community Action Partnership’s motto is, ‘Helping People, Changing Lives,” Caron added. “That is what this crew did this weekend; they helped people and changed lives in ways the residents could not have done on their own.”
The New Paris home of May Parker, which previously had drafty windows, chipping paint, and a step that had been eroded by time and the elements, was transformed. Parker watched gratefully as the young workers caulked, scraped, painted, and hustled to make things right again, but she suggested they actually did much more than that.
“This program did a lot for me. It fulfilled me,” Parker said.