“Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others.” ~ Booker T. Washington
HELP LENA GET A NEW KIDNEY!
Lena Wiley has made a happy life doing the big things in life for others. The mother of four children, Lena made it her life’s mission to not only raise a wonderful family but to also leave her community in a better place than she found it – spreading love, happiness, and caring compassion across Mississippi along the way.
In September 1999, Lena Wiley began a labor of love as Executive Director of Oxford/Lafayette Interfaith Compassion Ministry after many years of running a shoe repair business with her husband, Herbert. Lena worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate. In a place as wonderful as Oxford, Mississippi, it’s hard to imagine anyone wants for anything or anything worse than college pranks happen; but Lena knows Oxford and Lafayette County. Lena knows who is hurting, who is in need and how to make a difference.
The Interfaith Compassion Ministry is a non-denominational, community support agency dedicated to helping residents in need with utility costs, rent payments and repairs. Lena knows who needs help. But her work with ICM is only the tip of the iceberg of how she gives back. She has made it her life’s work to look after those who society often forgets:
--Lena helps with homelessness by getting those in need to available shelter and sometimes even paying for motels herself.
--The Oxford Police Department and Lafayette County Sherriff's Department call Lena for help with families in crisis, including with domestic violence. She is on duty 24/7 and is a trusted agent with the less fortunate and those in need.
--Lena has worked as a crisis counselor in the local schools. The welfare of children is of the utmost concern to Lena.
--Lena screens applications for the Christmas Store making sure help goes to those truly in need.
Lena’s institutional knowledge of OUR community has helped make it a great place to live for everyone – those of means, students, young, old and most importantly, those who need a helping hand. Lena’s hand has always been there.
Of course all this hard work has not gone without some recognition. Lena was named Citizen of the Year in 2003, was the Mother of Alpha Phi Nu Upsilon Fraternity at the University of Mississippi, named Volunteer of the Year in 2005 by the Oxford Eagle and in 2012 was presented with the Community Heroes Award during a halftime ceremony at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium. In 2013 Lena was named one of Mississippi’s Women of Distinction, and the Magnolia Bar Association presented her with the the Harriet Tubman Trailblazers Award in 2016. She has also been an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford, Mississippi, the coordinator for the Oxford Fourth of July festivities for 14 years and participated in the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Oxford through her portrayal of Princess Hoka.
But now Lena is in need! After getting really sick at work and finding out she was toxic, Lena has been on dialysis since May 2018. She has an advanced stage of chronic kidney disease that has caused a significant amount of deterioration of her kidneys over time. She only has 7% kidney function at this time. Lena went to see another specialist for second opinion and found out all this information was true and that she needed a transplant. As with any transplant, there is a significant out of pocket fee depending on her insurance to get the transplant. There are costly tests such as pre-screenings, blood work, transplant classes, appointments, etc she has to attend for the transplant to even begin. After the transplant, kidney patients have to spend a significant amount of costs on anti-rejection medications to maintain good health. She has to go to specialist Methodist UT Medical and Methodist Hospital in Downtown Memphis for her transplant as there are no renal specialists in Oxford who can perform that particular surgery. After surgery she would have to spend at least 10 days in the hospital for recovery, depending on whether or not there are any complications. Money upfront would be beneficial for numerous appointments that require copays, additional medications for maintenance, and the hospital stay. A typical kidney transplant costs upwards of $260,000 not including the various medical appointments, hospital stays, and maintenance. After all that Lena has done for Oxford and Lafayette County, it’s time for us to give Lena back some of the love she has spread across our community for over 50 years. Lena has been attending pre-transplant classes at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Memphis and will continue to get the care she needs with your helping hand.
We have all benefited from Lena’s work in Oxford and Lafayette County. She gave her time, energy, money and love – now it is time for us to give back to her. It is the best way for the Oxford/Lafayette community to say “Thank You, Lena!”
“No one has ever become poor giving.” ~ Anne Frank
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