The churchgoing Towson woman went to cleanse herself of sin. Now, as a direct result, an elderly couple she has never met will soon be able to wash their clothes again in their Northeast Baltimore home.
Henry and Marie Boulware, whose washer and dryer were destroyed in a flash flood in June, can expect new appliances to be delivered to their East 35th Street house Thursday. Their Towson benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid about $650 yesterday for a washer and dryer at the Sears Outlet in Timonium.
The woman read about the Boulwares' plight in The Sun on Saturday. The article detailed how victims of a flood in June were frustrated by the city's slow pace in deciding whether to give financial assistance. After insurance companies denied their claims, residents turned to the city, saying flawed municipal drains contributed to the flooding.
Like four of their neighbors, the Boulwares saw their entire basement fill with water the evening of June 13, along with several inches in their living room, dining room and kitchen.
Henry Boulware is 78, a former General Motors assembly line worker who had to retire 21 years ago after a heart attack. His wife, Marie, is 77 and ailing. The two don't have the money, they say, to repair the $40,000 flood damage -- including the cost of a washer and dryer. That is why they have been carting clothes to a laundry.
They and their neighbors are hoping that the city will give them financial assistance. Some are waiting for an answer three months after filing a claim.
But for the Boulwares, one hardship -- the absence of the washer and dryer -- will be no more. And it happened when over the weekend, the Towson woman went to confession at her Roman Catholic church. The priest told her she needed to do an act of charity as penance. The Boulwares in particular were on her mind.
"Bingo, it came into my head," the woman said yesterday. "This is going to be my grand act."
"It's definitely happening," said Ramona Harris, sales manager at the Sears Outlet, confirming the purchase. "I'm happy to be involved. Step up to the plate and do something like this -- it's wonderful."
When Henry Boulware learned of the woman's generosity, he appeared stunned and took a moment to respond.
"I really appreciate it because nobody did anything to help us in no kind of way," he said. "My wife and I are both old and sick. We're doing the best we can."
He went on, "I'm telling you, the Lord is able. He touches somebody's heart."
When she heard his reaction, the benefactor began to cry. But she did not want any credit for her deed. She demanded anonymity and does not want even the Boulwares to know who she is. Nor does not want her family to know of the act.
The Boulwares continued to wait on the city for word yesterday. Grateful as they are for the new appliances, the Boulwares don't have a working furnace, and the days are getting cooler.
Steve Wright, the city claims investigator handling the requests in the Law Department, said yesterday that he could not comment without his boss' permission. Wright's supervisor, City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr., did not return a call seeking comment.
Efforts to obtain information through the mayor's press office have proven equally unsuccessful. Friday, press secretary Raquel Guillory said she was unable to learn anything herself from the Law Department. Yesterday her deputy, Rick Abbruzzese, was unable to find out anything either.