Shonda Lemon has worked for the United States Postal Service in the Chicago area for eight years. During that time, she has come to know many of the residents who live on her route in the Dunning neighborhood. Quite a few of the people on her route are elderly, and so she keeps an eye out for them.
“The elders on my route are dear to my heart,” the 34-year-old postal worker told NBC Chicago 5.
When one of Lemon’s customers, an 89-year-old woman named Helen Iwanski, hadn’t picked up her mail in three days, Lemon started to worry. Lemon wrapped Iwanski’s bundled mail in a rubber band so it would be easy for her to grab, but she noticed the bundles were piling up.
“It was out of the ordinary for her not to get her mail, especially with the rubber bands being on it,” Lemon told CNN.
"I was just so overwhelmed that I just cried."
When a USPS carrier noticed an elderly customer had not picked up her mail in three days, she felt something was wrong. Authorities found the woman lying on the floor after a fall. It had been several days. https://t.co/SBB0QqsEaE
— CNN (@CNN) January 29, 2021
On the third day, Lemon knocked on Iwanski’s door but got no answer. She called 911 to get authorities to come to the home for a wellness check.
The observant postal worker’s fears were confirmed. Once first responders arrived and entered the home, they found Iwanski on the floor, and it was clear she had been there a few days. An officer called Lemon to update her: Iwanski was alive and on her way to the hospital.
“I was very relieved because my heart was in my throat,” Lemon told CNN. “I was just so overwhelmed that I just cried.”
Iwanski’s niece, Mary Mason, also received a call from authorities about her aunt — and how Lemon had likely saved her life.
“I don’t think she would have lasted,” Mason told NBC 5. “I don’t think it would have been a good outcome.”
According to Mason, Iwanski stayed in the hospital for a week before being discharged to a rehabilitation facility to recover from her injuries and regain her strength.
Mason had the chance to thank the postal worker who went the extra mile to deliver kindness and compassion to her aunt. The women embraced one another on the cold street that Lemon travels each day on her appointed rounds.
NBC 5 was there to capture the moment. “You’re an angel, I love you so much,” Mason told Lemon.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) January 28, 2021
Lemon said what she did is something anyone good person would have done.
“I don’t look at myself as a hero,” she told NBC 5. “I just look at myself as one of God’s children looking after his other kids. That was my blessing for the day, that she was OK.”