With no family in the area, widow Bernadette Bidwell is seen more often than not walking the streets of Gladeville, or resting in a park or visiting people.
For several years, caring community members have kept an eye on her to make sure she is doing OK. One such couple is Margaret Bigbie and her husband, and their friend Freida Beazley, among dozens of others.
According to family friends, Bidwell lived on McCrary Road in a 2005 Palomino Puma trailer/RV. She saved up her disability checks to purchase the $6,500 home. It was her prized position and all that she owned.
“Bernadette does not have a car and sometimes she needs to go to the store, or the bank, or post office … general errands,” said Shvonne Petty, Margaret’s daughter. “Mom would go over there and take clothes back and washed them for her. Or drove her places. Freida did this also. Really, the whole community looked out for her in their own ways.”
Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Moore told said Bidwell’s home was stolen recently, driven right off her property sometime late Oct. 4 or early the next morning. She was not home at the time.
Petty said someone went by to check on the woman Friday morning and the trailer was missing.
“They called my mom,” Petty said. “They went to find her to tell her that (the) home was missing. She was devastated.”
According to Petty, Bidwell, who is on disability, bought the trailer and it was paid in full. Bidwell was taken to the bank Friday morning and retrieved the title to the trailer and then was taken to file a police report on the theft of her home.
“The RV was lost and had all her belongings inside,” Petty said. “Whomever stole it cut the wires, hooked it up and left with it. This lady had very little and now has nothing but the clothes on her back.”
Petty said the only thing she could think to do to help Bidwell immediately was to start a GoFundMe page.
Bidwell’s story flew around the town like wildfire. Churches stepped up, people donated clothes and toiletries and she stayed with some people.
As of Thursday of last week, just a week after her home was stolen, the GoFundMe donations skyrocketed to $7,165. Petty said she shut down the donations on GoFundMe because so much had been raised and the RV had been donated.
“The reason I started it was to raise funds to try to find Bernadette some other type of home, a trailer or something,” Petty said.
However, a generous community not only donated money for the homeless widow, but also two anonymous people offered to donate a replacement RV.
“At first someone wanted to donate a single-wide trailer, but it was too big for the lot,” Petty said. “A few days later someone reached out to Freida to say they would donate a smaller trailer. They said Bernadette needed it more than they did.”
It was delivered last Thursday. Margaret was there.
“Bernadette was beyond happy my mom said,” Petty said. “I saw the picture and I’ve never seen this lady smile so big.”
The delivered trailer is furnished, so further donations could be winter clothes, bedding, towels and toiletries. 525 Design in Gladeville is a drop off place for donations.
“What a community,” Petty said.