Mail delivery has been a staple of communication since the 1700s, and it is something many of us take for granted.
But, for Wanema Santiago, mail delivery is her connection to the outside world. Santiago has mobility issues that require her to use a walker. She also has respiratory issues. These two conditions make it almost impossible for her to get out of her home.
She lives alone with her dog.
Mail is one of the ways Santiago stays in touch. But, since July, she hasn’t even had that to keep her going.
“I’ve been missing my important mail because I can’t get there,” Santiago told 10Investigates' Jennifer Titus.
Her mailbox is part of a group of mailboxes that she says is too far away from her home for her to walk to.
“I’ve had packages delivered, but they go back because I can’t get there," Santiago explained.
For a while, other people were helping pick up and deliver her mail. But, over the summer, that stopped -- leaving Santiago with only one option: walk.
10Investigates went to Santiago’s home and walked the route to her mailbox ourselves.
It took us five minutes to walk the distance without any medical issues. For Santiago, with her walker, she says it takes her at least 30 minutes. And, when she’s done, she says it’s almost too much for her body to handle.
She spoke with employees at her local Temple Terrace post office. They told her to get a mailbox and a doctor’s note.
She immediately ordered a mailbox that was still in the box when we visited her home in October. On August 14, she faxed her doctor’s note. She didn’t get a response. So, she has faxed it again, every week since.
After nearly two months with no response, she decided to Turn to 10.
“Maybe you guys can do what I can’t do,” said Santiago.
10Investigates emailed the Postal Service; and within an hour, we heard back. Then 24 hours later, Santiago got a call from the U.S. Postal Service letting her know it was OK to put up her mailbox at her home.
Santiago met us at the door when we went back to check on her.
“If it hadn’t been for you guys, I’d still be waiting. I can get my packages and my letters,” Santiago said.
"When you live by yourself, you have no one to talk to; a piece of mail is important," Santiago said. "I’m a person again.”
The postal service sent 10Investigates this statement:
“The Postal Service appreciates its customers and strives to provide excellent service. When mail service issues occur, we take steps to quickly resolve customer concerns. Each request for hardship delivery is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In this specific case, we are working with this customer to arrive at a suitable resolution. We apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced.” -- Enola Rice Pierce, USPS Spokesperson
If you have a hardship case for the USPS, you can contact them by clicking here.
Sometimes all it takes to get help, is knowing who to reach out to. Turn to 10 is here to help you find that person. Simply send an email to Turnto10@wtsp.com and tell us your story!
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