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Naples community supports elderly neighbor with medical conditions

A Naples woman at high risk for coronavirus reached out to us wanting us to highlight her neighbors. She says it’s their strength and deeds that keep her safe and alive during the pandemic. We found out this is nothing new for the the close-knit community.

Geraldine Lisinski lives in Naples, and all her neighbors call her Gerry.

“She’s a character,” neighbor Terry Reece said. “She’s very eloquent; she’s very upbeat.”

“She’s a lady that hails out of north Jersey, and her personality matches,” neighbor Michael Vespucci said.

“She likes to be around people, which now she can’t be around too many people,” neighbor Jeff Katz said.

Gerry is 73 years old, with lots of health issues, including cancer and diabetes.

“And I have giant cell arteritis, where not enough oxygen is going to my eye,” Gerry said.

She couldn’t talk to us by video chat, but her neighbor took photos of her and shared them with us. To no one’s surprise, it turned into sort of a photo shoot at a safe distance.

“When I went there, I had to wear a mask and keep social distancing, so that I was far from her,” Reece said.

Reece is one of at least five different neighbors who helps Gerry and, in her words, keep her alive.

Katz says, a few times a week, they deliver her groceries, prescriptions, anything she needs.

“This morning, [I] went to Publix, got her a couple dozen eggs because Publix didn’t have them yesterday,” Katz said. “So I ran over there to get her eggs.”

“I put a chair out there, and, when they deliver it, they just ring the bell,” Gerry said. “And I just come, and I retrieve it.”

Because, as coronavirus spreads, Gerry doesn’t feel safe going outside very much, only to walk her dog, Donny.

“My favorite thing about Gerry is how she walks her dog,” Vespucci said. “She drives him around.”

Vespucci says he and his neighbors don’t give it a second thought to support Gerry.

“Not only does she deserve it, she’s kind person,” Vespucci said. “But it’s the right thing to do, and that’s what everybody should keep doing.”

Gerry says their help does far more than just put food on the table. Each of those neighbors told us Gerry always pays them back even though they tell her it’s unnecessary. Gerry told us she’s already thinking of ways to show her “heroes” her appreciation once the virus passes.

“You can see by looking at me I do have somewhat of a smile, and I’m waving,” Gerry said. “It causes me to be extremely positive that I will survive this.”

Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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