SELLERSBURG — On the way to the Buckner No. 631 Masonic Lodge in Sellersburg, 9-year-old Kamauri Harris asked his mom, Jamie Harris, why strangers would want to give them the thousands of dollars needed for Kamauri's new hearing aids.
After all, the Job's Daughters who would greet them at the lodge Saturday afternoon weren't family. So why would they present Kamauri and his mom with a check for more than $3,000?
That's when Jamie tried to explain to her 9-year-old son what Job's Daughters does and why. The short answer: pure generosity.
Here's the long answer:
Job's Daughters is a Masonic youth organization for girls and women ages 10 to 20 years old. One of the organization's main service projects is the HIKE fund, which stands for hearing impaired kids endowment.
Since 1985, chapters of Job's Daughters across the country have helped raise more than $5 million for more than 2,500 kids in need of support for their hearing impairment.
Tiffany Ingles, a HIKE coordinator for Indiana and national board member, said families typically learn about HIKE through their audiologist or school. The family then applies for grant money, the amount based on the cost of the equipment that given family needs.
Kamauri's mom, Jamie, learned about HIKE through their audiologist in October, about two months after learning her son would need a new set of hearing aids.
"I was pretty overwhelmed because we had just started a new [health insurance] plan year and I knew we were nowhere near our deductible, so our insurance wasn't going to pay for it," said Jamie, who lives in Jeffersonville.
About 10 weeks after applying for a HIKE grant, Jamie received word that she and Kamauri would get some much needed help. On Saturday, she accepted a check inside the Masonic Lodge chambers. She expects to receive the new hearing aids for Kamauri any day now.
"It's life changing. It was very overwhelming," Jamie said after the check presentation. "We're forever grateful. Words can't describe exactly how grateful and how happy we really are."
Ingles, the state HIKE coordinator, said seeing families accept the check is one of the best parts of working with the fund. On a personal note, Ingles said it's inspiring and "joyful" to give back and try to make a difference in someone's life.
"I think it lifts a burden off of them financially, and for the children it can open up a whole new world," she said.
Jamie said the new hearing aids will be more modern, coming equipped with Bluetooth capabilities. Right now, Kamauri has to rely on teachers using a mic, a speaker in the back of the classroom and an interpreter. With the hearing aids, he should be able to get a direct line from the teacher's mic to his hearing aid.
Those teachers, along with doctors, are some of the people that make up what Jamie called Kamauri's "team," a support system that has helped her family get through challenging times. Now, she said, Job's Daughters and HIKE are a part of that team, or what others might call family.
"It's vital. Kamauri has had to overcome a lot of obstacles since he was born and so just any part of his team has been a very crucial part of that.
"And now we have all these wonderful people to add to it, and we're grateful."