Laura Seitz, Deseret News
KEARNS — In December, Mandi Shaw faced eviction from her small home and the too-real possibility of having to live out of her Chevy truck along with 19-year-old daughter, Cortney, and the family pets.
Then, Ron and Connie Baker — and the world — came to her rescue.
Through media and Internet exposure, people from around Utah, the United States and the world responded to Mandi's story, sending around $70,000 to her mortgage lender. Still, unless her financial prospects change, she may face homelessness again in three years.
Throughout her life, Shaw has always dealt with disabilities and health issues due to severe birth defects, but somehow managed to get through.
But things began to fall apart after her husband's death in 2010 and by mid-2011 she was months behind on the mortgage and expecting the bank to show up any day to collect the keys.
It gnawed at her. "It's like you have a ball in your stomach and you don't know how to get it out."
As volunteer service missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Bakers were sent to see how they could help.
In the past, when missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on her door, Shaw would tell them she's an atheist, just to get rid of them.
Her daughter was childhood friends with the daughter of the LDS bishop in her area. Since Mandi's husband's death in 2010, the bishop reached out to the Shaws, telling them he would send a financial counselor to help her.
Unannounced, Ron Baker and his wife showed up one day on her doorstep, Mandi remembered, "with their little name tags on."
"The first thing Mandi said is, 'Well, I'm not interested in religion,'" Baker recalled. "And I said, 'Mandi, we're not here about religion, we're here to help you."
"We were there to practice religion," he noted.
In his church assignment, Baker, an insurance agent with financial expertise, works with people who are struggling financially. But he noticed something special about Mandi.
"Mandi is very straightforward. She tells us just how she feels — there's no agenda — just pure honesty." She's truly a person "without guile," he said.
He took on her cause as a personal crusade.
"My life has always been one where I've seen lots of miracles like this," he said. "These things have kind of followed me around."
He decided to work up a YouTube video to illustrate Mandi's plight, then send it to friends, family and business associates.
The video got around 100 hits, and Baker gathered around $1,500. That helped, but he wanted to help the Shaws a little more — maybe get them about $5,000, or so.
He started sending emails to media outlets, hoping to get Mandi's story more exposure. For weeks there was no response.
"I spent time fasting and praying about this," Baker said. "My prayer to Heavenly Father was, 'We've done what we can do, now it's up to you.'"
Finally, the Shaws got an interview from this Deseret News reporter just before Christmas. But days passed and they saw nothing published. At best, she expected a small article near the obituaries. It was shortly before New Years, when Mandi finally saw her story.
Awestruck, she stared at a newsstand and saw her picture in full color staring back at her.
"That's all you saw — and I was all you saw," she remembered. "I thought it had to be something big or important to be on the front page."
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