Family gives video game system to 16-year-old who sold his to pay rent

Dec 29, 2017
Linda Perez from Meals on Wheels Central Texas gives birthday gifts to Donovan Clay, 16, at his home. His mom, Bertha Foster, smiles as she looks on. Their apartment has little room for Foster to get out of bed. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When Bertha Foster, 43, and her son Donovan Clay, 16, were nominated for the Statesman Season for Caring program, they were living in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother, sister, a grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, two daughters, and a grandson.

Foster, 43, is partially paralyzed after a series of strokes, which left her partially blind and without the use of one of her hands.

Foster and Donovan are part of the Season for Caring, which highlights the needs of 12 local families and helps hundreds of other families served by local nonprofit agencies. The Foster family was nominated by Meals on Wheels Central Texas, whose purpose is to nourish and enrich the lives of the home-bound people and other people in need they serve.

At his grandmother’s apartment, Donovan slept in Foster’s wheelchair. Foster spent her days in a large hospital bed.

Then, in September, Foster and Donovan found their own one-bedroom apartment. It’s a stretch financially because they couldn’t find an accessible first-floor apartment that would accept Section 8 housing. To help pay the $1,180 deposit, Donovan pawned his Xbox video game system.

In their new apartment, Foster’s hospital bed takes up most of the living room. The rest of the apartment is a small bedroom and bathroom for Donovan, the kitchen and the foyer.

“This is much better,” Foster said. “We just need more room.”

While she has a large Hoyer lift to help her out of bed and into the wheelchair, often there isn’t enough room to use it effectively. It regularly takes about 30 minutes to move her to the wheelchair, she says.

When she needed to go to the hospital in November, she had to be lifted out of her bed and taken out of the apartment. The place is too small and the angle between the door and her bed much too severe to accommodate a stretcher. It’s a challenge.

“They just have to lift me up and pack me out of here,” she said.

When Laura Keyes and her family read about Donovan Clay pawning his Xbox to pay the apartment deposit, they decided they had to help. The day after his birthday this month, Donovan opened a new PlayStation 4 and PS4 games to go with it as well as a football and a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt.

The Keyes family has made it a holiday tradition to be part of Season for Caring. The first few years, Keyes said, they wrote a check. Now they pick out a family.

“We have a son close in age,” she said. “We could relate. We all kind of talked about it this year, especially, that this is the family we want to help.”

The Flieller, Kruger, Skelton & Plyler accounting firm also felt like this was the family for them. They collected money to go toward practical things such as household cleaners, a vacuum, broom, mop, bathroom curtains, towels, silverware, pots and pans.

Lucky Dog pet groomers delivered a Christmas Eve meal for the family. Readers also donated furniture, football cleats and a laptop. A lawyer has offered to prepare Foster’s will.

Foster’s goal is to find a three-bedroom, first-floor apartment to make getting around much easier. They also need help with rent, utilities, grocery story gift cards, driver’s education for Donovan, a gently used car and a cellphone and cell service for Donovan.

To find out more about the Foster family or to give an item on their wish list, contact Meal on Wheels Central Texas at 512-476-6325, Ext. 159 or mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org.