By Robert Roy Britt — A few months ago, some local veterans heard that an 81-year-old Korean War veteran who goes by the name Sticker was living in his pickup truck in the Tramonto area. Sometime later, Tom Francis, an officer with the Daisy Mountain Veterans organization, happened to see the vet panhandling at Walmart in Anthem and struck up a conversation. Sticker, it turns out, is a proud and private man who didn’t want to talk much.
Enter Mary Ann Derryberry, patron saint of struggling veterans. She gave Sticker one of the sleeping mats her volunteers have been making from discarded plastic shopping bags [See “How to Help Homeless Vets Sleep Easier,” In&Out Sept. 8 & 15, 2016]. And as Derryberry will, she struck up a conversation. She tells Sticker’s story:
For five decades, Sticker was a long-haul trucker. At 80, he lost his commercial driver’s license, and therefore, his job. Last year, while living in Yuma, his motorhome broke down. Unable to afford repairs, he traded it for a pickup with more than 100,000 miles. He’s been living in it since. Sticker has Social Security but not Medicare.
“He has to panhandle to get food, gas, and copay for an upcoming cataract procedure,” Derryberry said. She pressed him for ways to help. Sticker wished for a camper to tow behind his truck. Daisy Mountain Veterans leadership voted to spend $1,500 on a camper.
“Well, it didn’t take long to find out that $1,500 wouldn’t buy much,” Derryberry said. She tried Craigslist, RV Trader, Facebook and other means. She and her husband “went to almost every dealer in the valley, but nothing.”
Then a friend hooked her up with Little Dealer Little Prices, an RV seller based in Prescott with a location on Deer Valley Road. Salesman Danny Graham described a couple low-priced campers on the lot and told her to come quick—the cheap ones go fast. The Derryberrys collected Sticker from Walmart and headed to Deer Valley Road. They settled on a 1979 camper that would be perfect, but it was $2,000.
That’s when Pam DiPietro stepped in. DiPietro is Executive Director of the Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center, which kicked in $400. Daisy Mountain Veterans decided to make up the difference. Derryberry said Marvin Miller at Little Dealer Little Prices worked off-the-clock “several hours to check, fix and replace several items” to get the camper ship-shape for the Korean War veteran. As a bonus, he even tossed in a new mattress.
This article first published on North Phoenix News.