December 4, 2013 Updated: December 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm
This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
This is the first holiday season that 69-year-old Betty Baskett will spend without both her husband of 50 years and her daughter. She lost both of them to cancer - her husband in September 2012 and her daughter in April 2013.
"If it wasn't for Tri-Lakes Cares, I wouldn't have made it," she said.
According to its website, Tri-Lakes Cares is a community based center supported by volunteers that works to improve peoples' lives by providing emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs and other social services to those in need.
Baskett has been a client of Tri-Lakes Cares since she was 65 and her husband fell quite ill. They were both retired and didn't have money for food or the help they needed.
"Tri-Lakes Cares was so kind, so professional and so caring," she said. "It is one of the cleanest, most honorable, most thoughtful and caring of any group I have ever seen."
Baskett's husband first was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in May 2012 - the same month he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors found a tumor the size of a grapefruit.
He tried chemo and radiation and doctors said there was nothing else they could do for him.
At the same time, their daughter was in the hospital for breast cancer.
Baskett had opened a small consignment store after retirement but had to sell it so she could care for her husband and daughter. Now, she is trying to sell her home because she can no longer afford it.
Baskett visited Tri-Lakes Cares two times a week for food and once a month for a senior bag filled with toilet paper, toiletries, laundry detergent and other necessities. She said that the agency even provides gluten free products.
She values Tri-Lakes Cares so much that she now volunteers at Hangers Thrift Shop, the adjacent store right whose profits benefit the agency. Also, when her husband died, she donated his concentrated oxygen machine to Tri-Lakes Cares, and the gentleman who received it was so touched he cried.
She said that to anyone who may need help out there, remember there is help.
"You just have to ask," she said.
"They've been a support system," she said.