BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Question: Would you let five people you did not know live in your home until they got back on their feet? Most people would not. But Rebecca McCormick in Walker is not 'most people'.
Rebecca is a dialysis nurse. Her adult daughter, Jennifer Allison's best friend Heather, found herself almost homeless the day before Thanksgiving two years ago, with her fiancé and three young children.
Jennifer asked her mom if these five could bunk at her home for 'a while', at least through the holidays. Jennifer knew her mom, Becca as she's affectionately referred to, had a large home in Walker with two extra bedrooms not currently being used.
"I just try to take care of everyone that I can," Becca told us. "I don't have much. But I was not raised in a great situation and people helped me. I just want to pass that on and try to help other people too and say, hey – no matter where you're at, there's a better place. And you can get there!"
Plus Becca trusted the instinct of her daughter Jennifer. If Jennifer said these were good people, then that was good enough for Becca. Besides, it's the holidays, right?
So the day before Thanksgiving in 2014, Heather Waldroup, her fiancé Steven Cole and their three kids moved in with Becca.
"And the day we moved in was, like, the first time I'd ever met," Heather explains. "She just kinda opened up her heart and her house to us and our kids,
and gave us a place to stay."
But with Christmas just around the corner, Steven between jobs and Heather working limited hours, the three kids were unknowingly about to have a very sad Christmas.
"We couldn't afford to really buy gifts a lot," Steven remembers. "We did what we could. But Becca really just made Christmas great for our kids."
"Oh yeah," Heather chimes in with a huge smile, tears in her eyes at the memory. "Becca asked the kids what they liked. And she went out and bought gifts that really supplemented what we were able to do. We actually used the Christmas Crusaders Program at that time."
Heather is emotional talking about having stayed with Becca for an entire year until they got back on their feet.
"The only thing Becca asked was to contribute some when we could," Heather explains. "We contributed with groceries because we did have assistance at the time. And we paid, like, half of the electric bill. Other than that, she …," Heather is overcome with emotion. She finally continued, "I think she enjoyed having kids again in her house. She missed the little kids being around."
"Now every time our kids go over, they're always running and jumping on top of Ms. Becca. And it's pretty cool," Steven says with admiration.
But there's a story behind the story.
You see, Steven was, as he describes it, "fighting a few demons at that time. I thought I was hiding them but Ms. Becca saw through it."
Steven's demon was a drug addiction. And he gets very emotional when he recalls those times.
"Well, ah," Steven struggles for words. "If it wasn't for Ms. Becca," his words trail off into soft sobbing. "I could talk to her. She was always there." Steven points to his fiancée Heather. "She was to the point she was ready to go," Steven admits, more tears now. "I mean, that's my world. I mean, family's my world. Ms. Becca is dynamite. I mean, dialysis nurse; saves lives every day. Saved mine. Saved hers," point to Heather. "Without Becca, I," Steven's words again hard to understand through emotion. "I wouldn't be with her still."
There was no doubt why Rebecca McCormick had been nominated for WAFB's Hand It On. But how could we surprise her?
Heather told her we were doing a story about the lives of dialysis patients and would she mind if we came to her house for an interview. She agreed, albeit a bit suspicious.
On the appointed day and time, we all met at Ms. Becca's home in Walker. After exchanging pleasantries and some superficial questions about dialysis, we finally told Becca this whole dialysis interview was really a set-up to mask the real reason we were there.
"I didn't bring up folks to lie," Becca said, still suspicious but had not yet figured it out. "I knew something was going on. You know, when your kids start acting all strange and start doing all kind of strange things, it's like oh, no."
Then Heather stood and presented Becca with our Hand It On gift.
"So with the help of Johnny and the Hand It On program," Heather stated, "we wanted to nominate you and reward you for helping us out for the year that we stayed here. So we think you well deserve this three hundred dollars."
"Oh my goodness," Becca exclaimed. "Oh my sweet babies."
"We really appreciate everything you've done for us," Heather began. Then Steven took over, "Everything you still do for the kids."
"We gotta take care of each other," a modest Becca proclaims.
"I mean," Steven continued. "when we moved in, you really didn't know who we were. You just went on Jennifer's word. You definitely helped us. I'm a better man because of you."
"You tried hard and you succeeded," Becca directed her comments to Steven, now free of his drug demon. "See, I told you you could always succeed. Sometimes it's a long way, but you can do it."
"Yeah, but I still have a long way to go," Steven admits.
"Don't we all," Becca says, understandingly.
Don't we all indeed.
A dialysis nurse, yes. But a woman with strong integrity who really 'gets it', the true meaning of life. What was it some great teacher said long, long ago – do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Rebecca McCormick – you live that lesson. Every single one of us should take note of your amazing example of true, unconditional love. Thank you Ms. Becca. Thank you.
If you would like to nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On program, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.