Season for Caring: Where are they now? Guess family

use for ad teases: Season for Caring: Kylie Guess loves to read. The Guess Family has multiple medical concerns. Dad, Shawn Guess has a brain tumor, mom, Megan Shaw has Common Variable Immuno-Deficiency, daughter Kylie, 9, has juvenile arthritis, and son Carl, 3, has a speech delay.  LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Kylie Guess loves to read. The Guess Family has multiple medical concerns. Dad, Shawn Guess has a brain tumor, mom, Megan Shaw has Common Variable Immune Deficiency, daughter Kylie, 10, has juvenile arthritis, and son Carl, 4, has a speech delay. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Guess family lives with medical struggles that can’t be fixed by one Season for Caring campaign, including Shawn Guess’ brain tumor, Megan Guess’ common variable immune deviciency, and daughter Kylie’s asthma and juvenile arthritis. Right now, both Megan, 35, and Kylie, 10, are struggling with their illnesses, Shawn Guess, 40, says. “It’s been as good as it can be,” he says. “There are a few bumps in the road.”

One good thing is Guess says he believes that his case to get disability will soon be resolved.

Season for Caring was “an answer to our prayer for us,” he says. They were able to pay many past medical bills. “We couldn’t even dream of something that great,” he says. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us.”

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services.

Watch a video of the Guess family before Season for Caring, here.

Watch a video of Grisham Middle-schoolers wrapping presents for the Guess family.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

Season for Caring: Where are they now? Mia Garcia

Mia Garcia was the guest of honor and chosen to turn on the lights at the annual Driskill Hotel Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony Tuesday night December 1, 2015. Mia is part of the American-Statesman's Season for Caring 2015 campaign and the Driskill has chosen to be part of the fundraising efforts.  RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mia Garcia was the guest of honor and chosen to turn on the lights at the annual Driskill Hotel Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony last year. 
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Mia Garcia, 9, has completed chemo for Langerhans cell histiocytosis, which was in her eye and neck. One of the family’s wishes was for an immigration attorney for father Gerardo Garcia-Arteaga, 38. Season for Caring funds have helped with that process and the family expects his case will be completed soon.

Mom Brittany Hernandez had a health issue this fall, but is now back at work. Season for Caring funds helped them get through that and also get through a rise in their rent.

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services.

Watch a video of the Hernandez-Garcia family before Season for Caring, here.

Watch videos of Mia lighting the Driskill tree and the family getting new furniture from Star Furniture.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

Season for Caring: Where are they now? Gerónimo and Cordelia Flores

Geronimo Flores received a pair of new hearing aids from the Oticon Hearing Foundation and the Better Hearing Center of Austin Friday afternoon December 11, 2015. Hearing Aid Specialist Saleem Assaf gets a hug and handshake from Flores after he was fitted with his new devices and now is able to hear better much to his delight. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Gerónimo Flores shakes the hand of Hearing Aid Specialist Saleem Assaf after he was fitted with his new devices and now is able to hear better much to his delight.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Gerónimo Flores, 72, now can hear clearly thanks to hearing aids from the Oticon Hearing Foundation and Better Hearing Center of Austin through Season for Caring. His wife, Cordelia Flores, 74, has had some setbacks. She broke her hip in July and has been in a nursing home to get stronger after falling again. Their daughter Crystal Flores, 37, and her son, Neamiah, 4, and daughter Alissa, 19, are all doing well.

“It was the one Christmas we got to share as a family,” Crystal Flores says. “We got things we wouldn’t normally get. To see the excitement on my little one’s face, we had the Thanksgiving and Christmas we hadn’t had in 10 years.”

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services.

Watch a video of the Flores family before Season for Caring, here.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

Season for Caring: Where are they now? Emma, Angel and Brett Copenhaver

Angel and Brett Copenhaver read books in the neighborhood park with daughter 12-year old Emma and their dog Calcifer. Suzanne Cordeiro / For American-Statesman
Angel and Brett Copenhaver read books in the neighborhood park with daughter Emma and their dog Calcifer. Suzanne Cordeiro / For American-Statesman

Emma Copenhaver, 13, and her mom Angel, 28, are both doing better than this time last year, when they were first introduced as a Season for Caring family. Emma, who has lupus, has been able to stop taking chemotherapy. Angel Copenhaver, who has thyroid cancer, says she realizes now how much the stress of Emma’s illness affected her.

Husband Brett Copenhaver, 28, has been able to get bonuses at his job consistently. Season for Caring funds, which went to some of their basic needs, helped them be able to save again.

The community, Angel Copenhaver says, “really stepped forward and were part of the struggle we went through. It helped us lift our morale.”

One of the big things Emma asked for was art supplies. She has been drawing more and more and this year, she was able to sell one of her paintings. “It really helped her find a coping mechanism through art,” Angel Copenhaver says.

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services.

Watch a video of the Copenhavers before Season for Caring, here.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

Season for Caring: Where are they now? June and Kenneth Bonewitz

June and Kenneth Bonewitz of Round Rock have their own disabilities, she has had cerebral palsy since birth and bipolar disorder and he has seizures and short-term memory loss from a brain injury sustained in a car accident back in high school, but they also care for June's mother who has Alzheimer's. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
June and Kenneth Bonewitz of Round Rock have their own disabilities, but they also care for June’s mother who has Alzheimer’s. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

One of the biggest things on June and Kenneth Bonewitz’s Season for Caring wish list last year was to have a vacation. June Bonewitz, 45, who has cerebral palsy, and Kenneth Bonewitch, 51, who has memory loss after a car accident in high school, care for her mother Margie Spinn, 77, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Season for Caring funds were used for a caretaker for Spinn while the Bonewitzes took a cruise to Alaska.

“Season for Caring has taken a lot of stress off of our lives,” Kenneth Bonewitz says. “With our disabilities, that stress relief has done wonders to keep us from losing our sanity.”

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services.

Watch a video of the Bonewitzes before Season for Caring, here.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.

Season for Caring: Where are they now? Gordon Meeler

CG&S Design Build and its partners turned a bedroom in Gordon Meeler’s home into a wheelchair accessible bathroom. The 74-year-old Marine was part of Season for Caring in 2015. Before Season for Caring, he lived in his living room and used plastic buckets for his bathroom. Tre Dunham Fine Focus Photography
CG&S Design Build and its partners turned a bedroom in Gordon Meeler’s home into a wheelchair accessible bathroom. The 74-year-old Marine was part of Season for Caring in 2015. Before Season for Caring, he lived in his living room and used plastic buckets for his bathroom. Tre Dunham Fine Focus Photography

Last Thanksgiving Gordon Meeler was confined to his living room. The Marine, who served in Vietnam, is partially paralyzed and his wheelchair could not fit through the hallways of his South Austin home.

Meeler slept in his living room, and unable to access the bathroom, he used tall plastic buckets instead. His kitchen was also inaccessible to him.

Then Meeler was nominated by Family Eldercare to the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring program. On Nov. 29, 2015, Meeler’s story touched many readers. Contractors and remodelers called up that day ready to help.

CG&S Design Build turned a bedroom into an accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower. Last April, when the work was completed, he took his first shower in more than a year.

Brothers Pete and Matt Mehlenbacher rebuilt his kitchen and fixed a roof leak. Now Meeler can access the counters and the cabinets.

“They did a good job,” says Meeler, 74. “The kitchen’s perfect. I can actually use it … I can see better in there, and I can get around and reach everything better.”

Season for Caring is the Statesman’s holiday charity program, but the donations help families throughout the year. Each year, local nonprofit agencies nominate families to the program. The 12 selected families get their needs met first, but then the agencies use extra money to help other families with basic needs such as rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills and transportation.

Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has raised more than $9.7 million. Last year, the greater Austin community donated $580,187 in monetary donations and $157,277 worth of in-kind goods and services, such as remodeling Meeler’s home.

“Thank you for all the help I got,” Meeler says. “I appreciate it. Thank you.”

Watch a video of Meeler before Season for Caring, here.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, we’ll introduce you to a dozen new families. All this week you can learn how the 2015 Season for Caring families are doing.

Read all the stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring.