When June Bonewitz, 44, was growing up, there weren’t a lot of options for her in the kitchen.
“They didn’t make left-handed utensils, so that was a challenge,” she says.
That might seem like a minor inconvenience, but June’s lack of kitchen experience was compounded by cerebral palsy. It has caused the right side of her body to be very weak.
“I do all of the cooking and cleaning, she handles the mental tasks,” says husband Kenneth Bonewitz, 50.
He has brain damage after a car accident when he was a Westwood High School student and football player. The accident kept him hospitalized for more than five months and impaired his brain’s frontal lobe and right hemisphere, causing short-term memory loss, compromised motor skills and seizures.
“I can cook,” June Bonewitz shoots back.
“You can cook rice in a pot on the stove,” her husband replies, laughing.
The couple is part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program. Each year, the Statesman highlights the needs of about a dozen families that are served by local nonprofit agencies. The Bonewitzes were nominated by Austin Groups for the Elderly of Central Texas. Money and items donated go to the featured families first and then, after their needs are met, the agencies are able to help hundreds of other families all year.
The Bonewitzes are one of those families that hasn’t received an outpouring of help yet this Season. They will receive some grab bars in their bathtub, and Kenneth Bonewitz will get some training on how to fix things around the house, but the donation calls have been very slow.
The couple’s banter is good-natured, and they don’t wallow in their physical and economic problems. In addition to cerebral palsy, June Bonewitz also has bipolar disorder, and the couple cares for her mother, Margie Spinn, 76, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
The financial woes are serious, too. Though both Bonewitzes are college-educated, they are only able to hold down basic jobs — Kenneth Bonewitz is a convenience store clerk and his wife is a school crossing guard.
The couple doesn’t qualify for food stamps. Until recently, they relied heavily on their microwave oven, which no longer works. Their regular oven doesn’t cook at the right temperature, and both the icemaker and freezer built into the couple’s refrigerator are dysfunctional.
“I’d like to throw that whole thing into the garbage,” Kenneth Bonewitz says.
The fence and gate in the yard of their Round Rock home is in disrepair. That’s problematic because Spinn is prone to wandering. On one occasion, she walked all the way to Pflugerville before police located her.
Appointments for her mother mean that June Bonewitz often takes the couple’s only car, leaving her husband to walk to his job. A second vehicle would help, but so would something as simple as an automatic garage door opener.
To find out more about the Bonewitzes or to give an item on their wish list, contact AGE of Central Texas, 512-992-3440, ageofcentraltx.org.