Community comes through loud and clear for Delhi cafe owner

Above: The raffle and drawing for Pamela Guy's hearing aids at the Cross Roads Cafe on March 23, 2013. Video by Jessica Vecchione of Vecc Videography. 

It's tough enough handling the busy lunch rush at Delhi's Cross Roads Cafe in Delaware County. When you have to struggle to hear your customers, it becomes almost impossible.

That's what Pamela Guy, the owner of the Cross Roads Cafe, has been doing Since February 1, when her last hearing aid broke. 

"It is very hard for me to understand most people's speech without the help of my hearing aids," Guy wrote in an interview conducted over Facebook yesterday.

Guy has lived most of her life with severe bi-lateral hearing loss.  Most of her neighbors and customers never knew it, thanks to the hearing aids in both ears she has relied upon for over 15 years. 

Guy's hearing was damaged by a series of ear infections when she was a child. By the time she was 9 years old, she had endured three surgeries to correct the problem. 

But Guy's health insurance doesn't cover hearing aids -- just hearing tests. She has made two sets of ear pieces last for more than a decade, but was down to only one working hearing aid in one ear in February. When that ear piece broke, running the busy cafe at the center of town became much more difficult. 

"I do read lips as best I can, but mustaches get in the way and if people aren't looking at me it doesn't help," she wrote. "I am constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves, which is an irritant to them, I have noticed. I lean in to hear the soft speakers and sometimes just have to have someone else help them as I can't make it out no matter what I try."

Guy's colleagues at the cafe helped handle orders, but Guy finally took to her Facebook wall to explain to her customers what was going on. She posted a request for her regulars to "speak up, as I might not hear them." 

For many, this was the first time they knew that Guy had hearing loss. Instead of just speaking up, her friends and neighbors -- led by Hope DellaCrosse Knapp and her mother, Polly DellaCrosse -- decided to act. Last Saturday, local businesses donated 15 items for a raffle in Guy's honor to raise money for new hearing aids.

At the raffle, held at Cross Roads Cafe on Saturday morning, Polly Dellacrosse handed Guy an oversized $6,000 check.

"I'll be able to hear you guys real soon," Guy said with tears in her eyes as she accepted the money.

"I am just amazed and grateful at the response I received," wrote Guy. "I was worried about not being able to take care of my customers, and for them to turn around and show so much care back is wonderful."

Guy has an appointment to bring home her new hearing aids on April 3. The new earpieces have a four-year warranty instead of a one-year warranty like her previous set, and will be better than her last pair by far, she wrote. 

She added that she's going to begin learning American Sign Language. "I will be starting to have meetings at the cafe for people interested in learning this as well," she wrote. 

At the raffle, Knapp said that the fundraisers didn't have any trouble raising the $6,000.

"Because she helps everybody else in the community whenever anybody needs something, we felt that it was important that we help her," Knapp said.