Good Neighbor Fund: Help Needed When Finances and Health Went South

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Few individuals can claim to have formerly owned Northern Virginia’s second-largest humidor, but Dexter Daughtry can.

The 75-year-old moved to Virginia from Buffalo, New York, and now resides in Roanoke. He’d been working in the tobacco industry for decades at that time, he added, and had learned about buying and selling high-quality cigars “through trial and error.” According to him, the most expensive cigar he’s ever purchased was $125.

Daughtry has worked for others for years and has put his knowledge to good use. After moving to Virginia in the late 1980s or early 1990s, he decided to start his own business, eventually owning three cigar shops in Northern Virginia. Daughtry, ironically, does not smoke or drink.

Daughtry says he was doing well at the time: “I had a house and two Cadillacs in the driveway.”

Despite this, he found himself at Roanoke Area Ministries in October, requesting assistance with his rent through the organization’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, which is funded by The Roanoke Times’ Good Neighbors Fund.

Daughtry and his wife, Hattie, moved from Fairfax County to Rocky Mount in 2000 to be closer to a cousin. However, after spending their whole lives in big urban areas, the absence of public transit in Franklin County proved too much for them, especially because Hattie was unable to drive.

He said they relocated to Roanoke a year later, and while the city isn’t in Northern Virginia, “it worked.” It has a more urban feel.”

Hattie had a job, and Daughtry offered any assistance he could. He stated he had problems making ends meet without her income after they divorced in 2007 and he had a series of medical issues, and that he eventually lost all of his funds – primarily due to medical expenditures.

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However, the [Veterans Administration Medical Center] and counselling got me out of there.”

Daughtry initially came to RAM around ten years ago, when he was similarly overdue on his rent, he said. He expressed gratitude for the award and has maintained contact with the agency’s caseworkers.

And although Daughtry understood he wouldn’t be expelled and his utilities wouldn’t be turned off as long as the COVID-19 relief measures were in place, he knew better than to ignore the bills.

Daughtry had a heart attack earlier this year and had two stents inserted in his arteries. He had just begun to clean up his credit history when the expenses started stacking up again, he explained.

When interest and penalties are factored up, “$75 may turn into $300 or $400,” he warned.

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