Cou­ple come to aid of el­derly neigh­bor

Of­fi­cer, wife en­sure friend, 98, stays in­de­pen­dent

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Elise Sch­melzer Elise Sch­melzer: 303-954-1368, es­[email protected]­ver­post.com or @EliseSch­melzer

Once a month, Den­ver po­lice Of­fi­cer Mon­ica DeOssie and her wife take their 98-year-old room­mate for pie and tequila sun­rises at the Den­ver Diner.

The diner’s staff mem­bers adore the el­derly woman, He­len Soika. It’s one of the many rou­tines the three have cre­ated over the years as the DeOssies have cared for Soika, who lived across the street be­fore they moved into her home to help her.

Soika has lived in Den­ver for decades, but she doesn’t have many friends left in town, DeOssie said. Soika’s rel­a­tives are scat­tered across the coun­try.

The DeOssies first be­friended Soika in 2014 af­ter Christina DeOssie saw Soika’s hus­band slip and fall. The younger cou­ple started bring­ing the Soikas gro­ceries and com­ing over to help with house­hold chores.

“It struck some­thing with the two of us,” Mon­ica DeOssie said. “They had lived this long life and didn’t re­ally have any­body.”

DeOssie’s kind­ness to Soika on Wed­nes­day earned her a Cer­tifi­cate of Ap­pre­ci­a­tion from Mayor Michael Han­cock, one of 17 Den­ver po­lice of­fi­cers to re­ceive the an­nual honor.

“What I ap­pre­ci­ate most about Den­ver Po­lice of­fi­cers is they rou­tinely en­counter peo­ple who are strug­gling, or maybe hav­ing the worst days of their lives, and they make a real dif­fer­ence in those lives by sim­ply car­ing and act­ing to im­prove some­one’s sit­u­a­tion,” Han­cock said in a news re­lease about the awards.

The Soikas moved to Den­ver in the 1980s for a job, Mon­ica DeOssie said. He­len Soika worked for an engi­neer­ing firm and be­came the first woman al­lowed to buy stock in her em­ployer’s com­pany, DeOssie said.

Soika needed more help than ever af­ter her hus­band died. Although she was healthy and in­de­pen­dent, Soika couldn’t drive. Her lawyer rec­om­mended that she be placed in an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity.

“We just didn’t want to see that hap­pen to her,” DeOssie said. “She was so used to be­ing on her own and do­ing things her­self.”

In­stead, the DeOssies spent six months ren­o­vat­ing the first floor of Soika’s home so the woman could live down­stairs. They sorted through the boxes of be­long­ings that over­took the woman’s first floor. They in­stalled a ramp up to the back door so Soika could come in­side eas­ier and af­fixed a rail in­side the shower. The cou­ple re­built walls and a kitchen on the first floor.

In June, Soika fell and suf­fered a bro­ken hip. The DeOssies took turns stay­ing with her in a hos­pi­tal and in hos­pice while the woman re­cov­ered.

Doc­tors said Soika might never walk again, Mon­ica DeOssie said. Soika’s at­tor­ney again rec­om­mended that she be placed in an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity be­cause she couldn’t live alone with such a high risk of fall­ing.

But the DeOssies weren’t will­ing to watch their friend live in a home. In­stead, the cou­ple rented the sec­ond-story apart­ment in Soika’s home.

“We just wanted it to be so that she could be com­pletely in­de­pen­dent,” Mon­ica DeOssie said.

Soika and the DeOssies have be­come a fam­ily, Mon­ica said. The cou­ple’s fam­i­lies wel­come Soika at Christ­mas, and Soika was in their wed­ding.

“She’s so lively and she’s got so much spunk and en­ergy in her, there’s just no way we could turn our backs and not do any­thing,” DeOssie said.

Cour­tesy of Mon­ica DeOssie

Den­ver po­lice Of­fi­cer Mon­ica DeOssie, left, and her wife, Christina DeOssie, sit with their el­derly neigh­bor He­len Soika at the DeOssies’ wed­ding.

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