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Family perseveres through tough year

Rhonda Costa
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal
ALL |

Sometimes a person can’t help but feel overwhelmed when one negative thing after another befalls their life. But Ginny Phifer isn’t letting the negative overshadow the good she has witnessed from strangers.

“I am thankful,” she said, sitting in their rented, northeast Carson City home. “If it weren’t for one stranger, one angel, my boys wouldn’t have had a Christmas today.”

Ginny called sons Joseph, 14, and Nicholas, 8, into the living room so they could open their presents. A football for Joseph, and a Mission Spy Kit for Nicholas. As they began playing with their toys, Ginny wheeled in a royal blue bike for Nicholas and a green and tan bike for Joseph.

“Wow, that’s pretty cool,” Nicholas said. Joseph was quietly sitting on his bike, sizing up the feel.

“If it weren’t snowing I could go out and do tricks,” Joseph said.

The boys tried to show excitement, but were missing their dad. Todd was stuck on Interstate 80, which had been shut down Thursday because of hazardous road conditions.

The Phifer family ” father, Todd, Ginny, sons Seth, 22, Joseph and Nicholas, along with Ginny’s mom, Blanche, moved to Carson City from Tennessee in August 2007. Todd is an owner and operator of a semi-truck and was looking for more work with a dedicated run with a package delivery company.

While living in Sunridge, in a lease-option to buy, the family got behind on their rent after having to pay for expensive truck repairs while Todd was in Los Angeles.

“We knew we couldn’t come up with the money (for the rent), so all of our possessions were put into storage,” Ginny Phifer said. “Even the kids’ Christmas presents.”

The storage unit was arranged through Seth’s now ex-girlfriend. When Ginny sent Seth to pay the storage rental fee, they discovered their items were no longer there.

The ex-girlfriend had taken what she wanted and signed paperwork instructing the manager to sell the remainder of the property. Everything was gone.

“I did not file charges because she doesn’t have anything. It would have done no good,” Ginny said.

Then after the family moved into the Frontier Motel, Joseph and Nicholas’ bikes were stolen and money was taken from Todd’s wallet as he slept.

“That was the most adventure we’ve ever had, living there,” Ginny said. “And not always good. We learned a whole new language and words I’d never heard before in my life. Like ‘tweaker.’ That’s something my husband does to his stereo speakers. And seeing a 12-year-old boy with a switchblade knife.

“We relocated here for the chance of prosperity. It all started out good, people here are very nice … sometimes I just don’t understand.”

With the help of Todd’s mom in Tennessee, they were able obtain a rental and have some rental furniture and a washer and dryer. They purchased twin-bed mattresses from FISH for Blanche. The next day, Todd’s mother lost her job.

“We’re used to helping others,” Ginny said. “It’s really odd being on the other end, not having anything. This experience has been horrific. I hate to sound like a charity case, but our lifetime is gone.

“Todd lost his dedicated run so he’s working less, and I homeschool the boys. I would like to take on a part-time job.”

“It’s expensive to rent furniture,” Blanche said, after opening her gifts from the Carson City Senior Citizens Center. Adopt-a-senior program coordinator Marie Borgo was able to provide Blanche with a robe, slippers and knit cap.

But the whole family can use clothing in addition to household furniture. Beds, dressers, couch, chairs, dining room set and dishes and utensils ” pretty much everything.

“This has been so hard, things are so uncertain,” Ginny said. “But whenever you’re put in a situation, something good will come of it.”

Christmas Day got better for the boys and Ginny, when Todd made it safety over Donner Pass and arrived home.

“The boys are real happy now,” she said, with joy in the sound of her voice, too.

Contact Rhonda Costa at rcosta@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.