The logo of Damians Ladder, a new nonprofit organization whose mission is to help those in need in the San Lorenzo Valley. (Contributed)

If you, like me, were born between 1930 and 1946 (worldwide), you are one of the rare surviving senior citizens of this special group. Your age range is between 77 and 93 years old and you are the last who can remember the impact of World War II when our lives were forever altered.

Your families used ration books for gasoline, sugar and shoes. You saved tin foil from gum wrappers and poured bacon fat into a can on the back of your wood top stoves to be used later. You ate vegetables raised in your victory gardens in your backyards.

If you didn’t raise it or make it, milk, butter and cheese were delivered by six o’clock in the morning and placed in a cooler box on your front porch.

You played out-of-doors with the other kids on your block and came into dinner as Gabriel Heatter was broadcasting “There’s Good News Tonight” on his world news on the radio. There was no TV.

There were no city playgrounds and you cooled off by opening fire hydrants in the streets.  

You experienced the hoopla as the war ended and families were reunited. Food became more plentiful and women, once again, wore real nylon stockings.

Highways went from two lanes to three, and postwar little box houses were being built with the GI Bill in new groups called subdivisions.

Our world felt secure and full of bright promise and plenty.

More than 99% of us are retired now, and you will hear us say “we have lived in the best of times!” We are part of the 1% living who were born in this special 16-year time span.

But wait! We may be retired, our bones may be brittle and a tad crooked with age, however so many of us still have that twinkle in our eyes and are productive senior citizens.

We volunteer our time helping others who have not aged as well as some. We take on jobs handing out food bags, bringing life back into donated items at thrift shops and delivering food through Meals on Wheels programs.

However, along with being “still alive and kicking,” there are many who have, or are, outliving their retirement money, money they have saved for their “old age,” not realizing how inflation would diminish those carefully saved dollars, and many are living solely on their meager Social Security incomes.

As these seniors’ ages have increased, many have health issues, and along with their health issues, their homes and cars have gotten older and in need of repairs.

Seniors from those war years are a “proud” group; men and women who never complain, asking for little and willing to go without. And it is for these very reasons, a new 501c3 nonprofit organization is being created… Damians Ladder.

One year ago, 39-year-old Damian Lanctot, on his way home from work at Lockheed, was killed when his motorcycle and a car collided on Alba Road in Ben Lomond. That day, the San Lorenzo Valley lost a most caring and generous young man who, along with his wife Melissa, were the greatest supporters and helpers of those in need.

If a hole needed to be dug, a nail needed to be pounded, or a fence needed building, Damian and Melissa along with Damian’s ladder would answer the call; money was never accepted.

And then, along came a group of people who were determined to carry Damian’s and Melissa’s good works forward… helping those seniors and people with disabilities who can no longer afford the small repairs on their homes or even an auto that might need a windshield wiper replaced, or an oil change.

If you are reading this and feel the urge to be a part of this group, whether sharing ideas or donating a few hours a month perhaps repairing a broken stair, replacing a light switch, a windshield wiper or a leaking faucet, Damians Ladder would welcome you into our group. 

Simply email me at [email protected]. You will be happy you did.

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Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].


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