Lauren Mulvihill learned Ronald Dembner was a widower and a veteran who lost his two sons and lived alone with his dog, Homer.
When Lauren Mulvihill picked up an elderly passenger from the hospital one day, she didn't know it would change her life in such a way. The Uber driver from Henry County, Georgia, met 89-year-old Ronald Dembner in 2019 as she picked him up from the hospital after he was discharged. Later, she learned that no one else was available to take him home. When she reached his house, she was shocked to learn that he was living in squalor. "I thought I was going to be greeted by family members," Mulvihill told 11Alive. "Honestly, I thought somebody—a brother, sister, son, daughter, somebody—was going to be at the door. Then I realized it [was] just him."
Her heart broke when she learned he was a widower and a veteran who lost his two sons. The almost 90-year-old was living alone with his dog, Homer. "I said, 'Do you have anybody who is here to help you? Do you have anyone who checks on you?'" she said. "And he said, 'No.' He has absolutely nobody." Mulvihill made a few calls to get some help, but eventually, she put on a pair of gloves and decided to tidy up the place. "Everybody said, mentally he's fine, he's just older. So nobody will help," she said. Mulvihill then posted on Facebook asking if anyone could offer a hand.
"The man lives alone and cannot keep up with his pets. The house is deplorable. I'm not going to post pictures to spare his dignity, but it's incredibly sad. He says he has no living family and is terrified he will lose his home. I have been back and tried to clean up, but I am a single parent and my kids cannot stay inside the home," she wrote. Mulvihill said she had reached out to DFCS, the fire department and aging services as well as the Chamber of Commerce and every church recommended to her.
"Mr.Ronald is open and willing to have someone help, but he cannot pay and again is scared to death that they will make him leave his home. If anyone in Henry County would like to spend a day just helping with no reward other than making an old man happy, please reach out," she mentioned on the Facebook page, Helping Mr.Ronald.
Without expecting anything in return, dozens of volunteers turned up at Dembner's home and began cleaning. In less than a week, the group had managed to rid his home of all its garbage and the old furniture, even ripping up the old carpeting. "Every day, I am so thankful that these people who give so much of themselves are willing to come and help an otherwise perfect stranger in their time of need," Mulvihill said. A rescue group even came in to help Dembner's dog, Homer, get food and all his shots. "They love Homer, and Homer loves them," Mulvihill said. "They take care of Homer as if they've known him for so long."
Dembner himself was stunned at the kindness of absolute strangers. "Friendship; to be together with people who care—genuinely care for another person's concern," he told the outlet. "That's what I was most thankful for." He added that everything was happening so fast and it was all so "profound and being done so quickly and efficiently, I just don't have the words to explain how grateful I am, how thankful I am," Dembner said. "God bless them all for what they've done." And it worked both ways. "I will never forget their help, their love for the rest of my life. I will never forget it," Mulvihill said. "We will never forget you either. And I love them all."