LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) – A 100-year-old woman evicted from her apartment has a new home in the Southern California desert after a newspaper reported on her plight and motivational speaker Tony Robbins and a local congressman joined in helping her.
The Desert Sun newspaper says on April 1 Evelyn Heller lost a trial in which her Palm Desert landlord sought her eviction on grounds she had loud, disruptive arguments with one of her daughters.
"I have four grandsons, but I don't want to be dependent on them," Heller told the judge at the time. "I can't be a burden to my family. They don't have room for me. That happens in life."
When the story ran, Robbins and Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz contacted the newspaper, which put them in touch with each other.
Ruiz sent social workers to help Heller find a new apartment and Robbins donated $24,000 — $1,000 a month for two years.
She now lives in La Quinta, where Ruiz, his wife, Monica Rivers, and Robbins visited her Friday. Rivers brought a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.
"That's wonderful!" Heller said, inviting them in. "How sweet of you."
Robbins arrived a few minutes later and the group spent 20 minutes chatting.
"I don't know how anyone my age can have a bigger day than today," Heller said. "I just don't know how."
The benefactors sought to reassure her that she would be looked after.
"You have a lot of people who are going to keep an eye on you now," Ruiz said.
The congressman, a physician and Democrat representing California's 36th District, told the newspaper as he left that Heller represents a larger problem.
"I think our seniors are struggling. Their social security isn't going far enough. Some of them don't have family or friends," he said. "And it breaks my heart."