When a USPS mail carrier found that one of her elderly customers had not picked up her mail for 3 days, she knew that something was not right.
Shonda Lemon, 34, has been working as a USPS mail carrier in Chicago for the last 8 years and met frequently with Helen Iwanski, 89, during her route.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly,” Lemon said, “So, when I do come across elders, they just take a special place in my heart.” She even wrapped rubber bands around Iwanski’s mail so she could hold it easily and Iwanski would tape candy to her outgoing mail for Lemon as a gift.
“I just knew her to be a nice and considerate old lady, so when she would come to the door, I would check on her,” said Lemon.
But on January 14, she was alarmed when Iwanski hadn’t picked up her mail in several days. “It was out of the ordinary for her not to get her mail, especially with the rubber bands being on it,” said Lemon.
She called the police for a well-being check and authorities who entered Iwanski’s home, found her lying on the floor from a fall. It had been several days and she was immediately taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, said her niece Mary Mason.
Lemon said she was emotional when an officer called to say they found Iwanski alive, “I was very relieved because my heart was in my throat,” Lemon said. She heard sirens leaving Iwanski’s home as she delivered mail on her route in the neighborhood. “I was just so overwhelmed that I just cried.”
Iwanski stayed at the hospital for a week and is now recovering at a rehab facility. Her family is grateful Lemon was there at the right moment. “She (Lemon) really does lookout for people and cares about them,” Mason, who said she typically helps her aunt with her with groceries and laundry, said, adding that her aunt called Lemon her “angel.”
USPS said it is proud of the actions Lemon took to help Iwanski. “Postal Service employees know the habits of their customers and the rhythms of their communities, and are often the first to notify emergency personnel and render aid when something is wrong,” USPS said in the statement.
“Employees have been commended for going above and beyond the call of duty in a variety of situations, such as assisting lost children, getting help for sick or injured customers, spotting fires, and more. It’s another example of the heroic actions taken by an employee in the neighborhood they serve.”
Lemon is counting the days for when Iwanski is released from the rehab facility, she says, “Each person has an intricate part of your life,” she said, “and you never know how important they be.”