Meet Lacey & Her Papa Pal, Michelle
Lacey and Michelle have a beautiful and mutually beneficial relationship that has made each of them feel less alone.
Papa member Lacey was skeptical when her health plan first told her about Papa. She didn't want to admit that she needed the extra hands. But when going it alone just wasn’t cutting it anymore, she swallowed her pride and reached out. That decision changed her life.
For Papa Pal Michelle, it was perfect timing—and a perfect match. Michelle is a caretaker at heart who finds joy and fulfillment when she has people to love and look after. Without any family near, Michelle felt like there was a hole in her life. And then she met Lacey.
Where Papa Member Lacey Got Her Work Ethic
Lacey grew up in Leddo, Michigan, a small town of 2,000 people. Her mom gave birth to Lacey when she was 16, and Lacey’s dad took off when she was a year old. He didn’t come back into her life for 26 years.
Lacey’s mom has always been her best friend. She worked hard to support Lacey and her sister as a single mom. She has an incredible work ethic that she instilled in Lacey, who would do anything to make sure her four kids feel supported and loved.
Lacey had her first son, Jackson (6), when she was 21. His dad was not involved in his life. When Jackson was one, she met the man who became the father of her three younger kids—Robert (4), Sawyer (1), and Charlie (5 months). He and Lacey aren’t together, but he’s a big part of the kids’ lives.
Lacey works hard to make sure her kids have everything they need, but life threw some big challenges her way during the pandemic, and she found herself struggling. She had heard that Papa could help, but in addition to the pride thing, she had always intentionally kept her world small. “I don't let a lot of people in,” she says. “I am very protective and don’t want to expose my children to unnecessary stresses.”
She finally made the decision to get a Papa Pal. Maybe it would be nice to have some companionship for herself, she thought. Being alone with four children during a pandemic was a lot. “I needed someone to talk to besides my kids,” she says. “I wanted someone to laugh with and share my heart with. I wanted a friend.”
How Papa Pal Michelle Learned to Love So Well
Michelle grew up in Michigan as the adopted child of a wonderful, loving couple who couldn’t have children of their own. When Michelle was 10, her parents had a miracle baby—her brother, Scott. Michelle and Scott were close friends until Scott died tragically at age 22.
It was a hard time for Michelle. She was a single mother of a young child and grieving the loss of her brother. Her parents stepped in to help Michelle raise her daughter. They took her to school and sports practices while Michelle was at work. “They didn't have much but the love was immeasurable,” Michelle says. “They showed me how to be a giving, loving person. And a better mother. They were just incredible people to everyone in their lives.” Both of her parents have passed now, and Michelle misses them dearly every single day.
Michelle is full of love for others—just like her mom and dad. Her daughter is all grown up and lives in California. Michelle misses her and misses taking care of her. With her brother and parents gone—and her daughter far away—Michelle’s heart was aching for someone to love and care for.
When Lacey Met Michelle
Lacey had told herself not to get her hopes up about her Papa Pal. Maybe they wouldn’t click. Maybe Michelle wouldn’t be a good fit for Lacey and her kids. Maybe it was all too good to be true.
Lacey’s fears were completely unfounded. She and the kids all bonded with Michelle instantly. The kids loved spending time with her and would ask for her to come back to play with them. It was obvious to Lacey that Michelle really loved her kids, and that meant the world to her.
Lacey says that Michelle made an especially big impact on her four-year-old son, Robert, who Lacey lovingly calls a “sour patch kid.” During COVID, he really missed human connection and had become introverted and grumpy. But Michelle had a way of coaxing him back out of his shell. When Michelle arrives, he jumps on her and demands all her attention because he is so happy to see her. They do flashcards together, and Lacey says he’s been more confident going to school this year. “He's more open to learning new things,” she says, “because she has taught him a lot. I love the relationship they have.”
Michelle hasn’t just been a godsend for the kids. “She’s been so good to me too,” Lacey says. She takes Lacey to the food bank once a month when they do giveaways. If the portion is too small, Michelle advocates for Lacey to get more food for her family. She takes her to doctor’s appointments and Wal-Mart and helps her push the cart and keep track of the kids. When Lacey was pregnant with Charlie and not sleeping well, she scheduled Michelle to meet her for breakfast and that became their thing. “It’s just the best feeling knowing I can call Michelle and she will be there for me any time I need her,” Lacey says.
Lacey Is Just What Michelle Needed
Michelle found Papa in her early 50s after retiring on disability. She began looking for a job with more flexibility, saw Papa on social media, and decided to give it a try. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It was so easy to feel isolated and lonely during the pandemic. With no family nearby, and not seeing coworkers on a daily basis, Michelle’s life felt empty.
“When I met Lacey, that all changed,” Michelle says. “I just watch her in awe and think, ‘Wow, you are such a good mother.’” She describes Lacey as a mama bear with unconditional love for her children. “She lives for her kids, even at her young age.” Michelle sees herself in Lacey.
“Lacey has become like a daughter to me,” Michelle says. “She calls me just to chat. We meet for breakfast. She asks me for advice. And her children mean the world to me. They’re so happy to see me every time I visit, and that really feels good. If my mom and dad knew Lacey and her family, they would love her and her kids like I do. They knew the importance of a strong support system and loving and caring for people who aren’t your flesh and blood.”
Michelle became a Papa Pal because she had love and care to give. She honestly didn’t expect the mutual benefit, but that’s what she got.
They’re So Much Better Together
What a beautiful thing to know that no one has to do life alone. The folks at Papa know that when things are hard, we can get through them together.
Lacey says that, because of Michelle, she has a better outlook on life. Michelle has shown her that there really are good people in the world. “I know this isn’t just a job to her,” Lacey says. “She loves being around us too. It’s like we fill a hole in each other’s hearts. I’m really thankful for this relationship and I feel like it’s something everybody needs.”
“Because of Lacey, I don’t feel so alone,” Michelle says. “She and her children are my chosen family.”
There is so much power in togetherness—the care, the support, and feeling seen and valued. It’s amazing what having a Papa Pal—and being a Papa Pal—can do.
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