Maria Read: The Martha Foundation
By Kara Lavengood
The 700 Club
Maria and Martha are forever friends. Their friendship began more than 40 years ago when they were just 6-years-old.
Maria: I just knew that she was a best friend. Everything we did, we did it together. We just really enjoyed being with each other.
Martha and Maria were typical little girls. They loved playing dress-up, having tea parties, and playing with dolls. Their favorite was a life-sized doll named Alice.
Maria: Alice was a doll I literally saw on TV, on a commercial, and Martha had the doll. I can remember us playing with her. She had the best dolls in the neighborhood; nobody had dolls like Martha. She had a big doll house and we would just play dolls all day long.
As the girls got older, Maria’s interests changed, but Martha wanted to keep playing with “Alice.”
Maria: I didn’t know there was anything different about Martha until I was 12, 13-years-old; when boys started to interest me. I can remember not going [to Martha’s] as often because I wanted to go off with boys, and Martha just wanted to still play with dolls.
Mentally, Martha remained a child. Over the years, the two friends went separate ways.
Maria: I left home when I was 19, and I didn’t see Martha until I returned home when I was 28.
Martha and Maria’s friendship stood the test of time. When Maria moved home, she and Martha picked up where they’d left off years before.
Maria: Literally, Martha, it was like she had been waiting for me; like she knew I was coming. She’d come running out from the porch to greet me and we’d hug and hold each other.
As they grew closer, Maria grew concerned about Martha’s welfare.
Maria: Her mother was her sole provider when I introduced myself back into their lives, Martha, I noticed, hadn’t aged much. She was still the way I’d remembered her when I left, when I was 19. But her mother had aged a lot and I was becoming quite worried for her.
Maria stepped in to help. It wasn’t an easy process, but by the time Martha’s mom passed away, everything was in place for Maria to take over Martha’s care.
Maria: There was no group home for her at this moment, no other private agency that could take Martha, I even went into the elderly care because Martha’s a perfect fit for living in assisted living.
Maria created the Martha Foundation. She realized with a few modifications, assisted living could be a perfect fit where Martha, and people like her, would feel at home.
Maria: We’ve established a plan to build a 70 unit apartment complex based on the same living environment that’s out there for the elderly.
The residents will have the opportunity to live up to their full potential, something Martha’s been doing since Maria took over her care.
Maria: We’ve all seen Martha metamorphis before our eyes.
Martha: My life has changed so much and I like it.
Maria: She has a bounce to her walk. She would always walk with her head down; never spoke to people, didn’t even realize she could speak.
She’s even developed a relationship with God.
Maria: When she was introduced to God, she was a sponge. We couldn’t talk fast enough for her to take it all in. She asked many questions. She wanted to know who He is, where He is, in her own eyes.
Martha: I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know about God through Maria and Jim, and then I took myself to church. And I love doing it.
Maria is working hard to provide a future for her friend and many others in similar situations. Though Martha might not understand the sacrifice, she does understand the bond she and Maria share.
Martha: She’s a great friend. She is.
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