August 5, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) –Last month we reported on community efforts to help Debra Zeldin, a foster mom with several special needs children. Thieves stole her van and crashed it, leaving her with no transportation since her insurance didn’t cover damage due to vehicle theft. Now we’ve received an update from Zeldin with both good and bad news.
Zeldin, who has helped over 60 foster children and was twice named Foster Parent of the Year by San Diego County, writes, “I was able to get my van back several days ago after almost five weeks without it. The structural and mechanical issues are repaired for the most part. There are still repairs that need to be done; it is drivable and anything else can be pieced together over time. Unfortunately, because of the structural damage caused by the crash and the age of the van, it is now ineligible for any wheelchair accessible modification.”
That means she is back to “the jumble of wheelchairs, car seats, booster seats, strollers, etc, in and out of the van non stop and carrying kids back and forth one at a time to load and unload everyone” until she can save enough for a new van to be modified or “worst case scenario, I am forced to relinquish a child if I can no longer carry them to the car, or if they are too big for a car seat.”
Despite these hardships, she remains hopefully that by the time any of the children outgrow a car seat, she will have funds saved for a wheelchair van. She continues to hope that a local charity may help her find a way to get a new van sooner to accommodate the children’s needs.
She is grateful for “donations from every day people who made it possible to get my van back! I guess the karma of helping so many kids and families over so many years paid off!” In her e-mail to ECM,, she added, “I feel beyond blessed that people in my circle of friends and acquaintances also reached out, and through your article, people were touched and able to contribute dollar by dollar. Thank you so very much, it was a very difficult situation between my daughter just getting out of the hospital, the van, and all the demands of my day to day life closing in...I was really feeling ready to close up, but have so many people counting on me…Social worker after social worker in the county and at Rady [Children’s Hospital]'s request, kiddos be placed in my home for nurturing, care, healing and growth; I can't imagine ever turning a child away who is in need of a soft place to land just because of my vehicle, and the hassle and inconvenience,” she concludes.
You can help by making a check out to Debra Zeldin and mailing it to 8960 Johnson Drive, La Mesa, CA 91941 or donate to the “Van Fund” set up at Wells Fargo Bank at Grossmont Center, La Mesa, which also has a PayPal option. The account number is 1971183627.