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Tracy Frank, Published January 08 2013

HerVoice: Going the extra mile

Her Voice is a weekly series about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at tfrank@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – For Crystal Malaterre, an office manager and leasing agent for Cheyenne Estates apartments in Fargo, her tenants are more than just the people who rent her apartments. They’re her neighbors and friends.

And when she hears one of them is in trouble, Malaterre does what she can to help.

Last month she found out a tenant’s mother had died. After sending money home for the funeral, the tenant didn’t know how she was going to pay her rent or have anything for her children for Christmas.

“I just got on the phone and called a bunch of my friends,” Malaterre said. “I’ve done this before different years at Christmas time, especially for people who are hard-working, living paycheck to paycheck. One little thing can upset it.”

While Malaterre was in the process of calling friends to round up toys and clothes for the children for Christmas, a police officer who used to live in the building stopped by. He talked to one of the tenant’s children about Christmas, but noticed the child didn’t seem very excited about it. After Malaterre explained the situation, the officer set the kids up with the Shop with a Cop program, which pairs children up with police officers who take them on a shopping spree to buy gifts for themselves and their families. He also found someone to help pay their rent, she said.

“I always say that God has his hand in everything,” Malaterre said.

But this wasn’t her first fundraising venture.

Last summer, Malaterre noticed the child of another tenant had a problem with her eye. When she asked what happened, the family explained that she needed surgery and the family didn’t know how they would pay for it.

Malaterre recruited the help of her family and planned a raffle fundraiser, calling local businesses for donations.

The girl was able to have the surgery she needed.

Today, Malaterre is working on a fundraiser for a family friend who has been through two organ transplants and is now dealing with her husband’s health issues.

“She is one of the most courageous people I have ever met my whole life,” Malaterre said.

Donations can be given to the Laducer Family Fund set up through Bank of the West.

Malaterre said she helps others to teach her four children – twin 6-year-olds, an 8-year-old, and a 13-year-old – that kindness goes a long way.

She also feels like a better person when she’s done something good, she said.

“Sometimes in the craziness of this life, we forget about each other,” she said. “Sometimes a person just needs a little hand up so they can go back to living paycheck to paycheck.”

Malaterre also understands how hard it can be when something unexpected occurs, she said.

Two years ago she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Between surgery, medication and visits to the Mayo Clinic, things were tough, she said.

“I think that all of us have angels that come into our lives that God sends down to help us,” Malaterre said. “I think sometimes we’ve got to put on the wings to help, too.”