Theft of the Blog: The caretaker of wayward souls

Today is a Theft of the Blog day on NewsCut. The theme is the decency around us. It’s your platform today. Submit your story and/or photos/videos to

by Jon Emerson-Kramer
I want to tell you about my grandmother Charlotte, or as her friends called her, Chuck. Chuck was an Army nurse during World War II. She was trained in physical therapy and stationed in Belgium until the end of the war.

After the war, she spent time traveling across France and Germany, riding trains with POWs and GIs. After the war, she attended and completed two years of medical school before deciding that she didn’t want to be a doctor.

Despite not finishing formal schooling she never stopped caring for people. In 1969, she cofounded with my grandfather an all-volunteer food pantry and emergency service organization in Downer’s Grove, Illinois called FISH.

Through FISH and her community involvement, she met, cared for and supported a variety of wayward souls. After her kids started leaving home to attend college, she put people up in the vacant rooms in her house, she checked in on her “little old ladies” weekly and could always be counted on as a sympathetic ear at any time of day or night.

I think a lot about her at this time of year because of her approach to Thanksgiving. She may not have been the best cook, but what she lacked in culinary skills she made up for in spirit and heart. She would gather up all of the wayward souls who didn’t have anywhere else to go and bring them home.

The people she brought home were people that wouldn’t get a second glance on the street. They were homeless, struggling with addiction, and/or struggling with mental illness but she made sure that they had a place to celebrate and she also always made sure there was an empty place setting for the person who might show up unannounced.

She died in 2015 and I miss her all the time. I hope that I can be as decent of a human being as she was.