Thursday, June 6, 2013

White Guy In A Chair Seeks Van, Down By The River Or Otherwise


It's a long story, folks.  Bear with me.

Back in 2007, I answered a UW Daily ad for a weekend caregiver position.  My client was a complete quadriplegic (as in, C4-C5, pretty much nothing at home from the shoulders down) who, at the time, was also a student at the University of Washington (he graduated). Six years later, I'm living in Amsterdam with my dude, running almost every day, and having a great time. Six years later, White Guy In a Chair (With a College Degree)* lives in Washington, DC, where he's been in and out of the hospital, does weekly battle with the Housing Authority, have gone through umpteen caregivers, has lived in a "diverse" neighborhood that made my dad feel, as he put it, "like a golden Oreo" when we visited four years back, ran over his cell phone with his wheelchair in a crosswalk a month ago and can't afford a new one, etc, etc, etc. I could go on. I will. But only because it will get me to the point.

So, White Guy In a Chair has a Mom with Parkinson's and a Grandma with Alzheimers, both of whom live in New Haven, CT.  Both of whom he has not seen since moving to the East Coast. He's been trying for a couple of years, but can't convince any of his caregivers to drive the 5+ hours to get there (and another 5 hours back).  They'd need a wheelchair-accessible van, anyway (cost, so far as I can figure, is around $100 first day, and $80-$100 each day thereafter, 100 miles per day gas covered).  And a wheelchair-accessible hotel room, which are usually pricier than regular "double-twin" rooms.  And somebody to help him with everything from the shoulders down for eight days.

Fortunately, he has successfully located a willing caregiver who has done nothing much beyond sit on her butt 
in front of the computer and run/ride bikes for the last nine months. Check. That caregiver has talked a hotel down to about $100/night (including tax) and located an "anonymous donor" who is basically guaranteed whatever-he-wants-for-life by footing the hotel cost for the entire week. Check.

If there are any of you out there who are bleeding-heart do-gooders and want to help get this guy into a van 
**next Friday**, GREAT! Let's make a goal. $1000. That seems like a nice, round number. Should be able to get him at least to New Haven and back and forth between nursing home visits with that. Maybe a pre pay phone so he feels a bit more connected to the world (and for safety). Maybe dinner that consist of more than salted peanuts. I remember him eating a lot of those.
White Guy In a Chair was the first person to teach me Straight-Up Nurse Skillz, and is also one of the main reasons that I have the small amount of empathy that I do.  
Man! Life as a quadriplegic would suck!

Thanks in advance,

*"White Guy In a Chair" is thus nicknamed (only for the purposes of this Event, which WGIAC has no idea exists) due to the response of Big Black Safety Officer Guy At East DC Safeway, who responded, "You mean R! White Guy In A Chair?" when I asked if he'd seen a man in a wheelchair. WGIAC makes friends wherever he rolls. Which is funny to me, because he's from Juneau, Alaska and is prone to unintentionally racist comments. Stories for another time.

PS: "But Amelie, how can you promise me that all the money is really going into helping WGIAC to visit his ailing elders?" Good question! I'll keep track of whose money goes where and report back to you. And probably thank you with something cool from the Netherlands, like a postcard for people who give at least $15, maybe some stroopwafels for people who give at least $30, maybe a freekin' wheel of cheese for people who give $50-$100. I'm good at thank-you's.

*Please note in memo "WGINACHAIR" or "New Haven" or "Wheels Fund" or something of the sort. 

1.  Chase QuickPay: Amelie Mabbutt,
2.  PayPal: Amelie Mabbutt,
3.  Check to Permanent Address: 

Amelie Mabbutt
702 Crestview Dr.
Colfax, WA 99111

WGIAC with entourage.

UPDATE JUNE 7:  So glad to have the hotel cost covered.  This was nearly equivalent to the rate for the van rental, which means one generous soul has prospectively "matched" the goal donation for the van.  Nothing received yet via Paypal or Chase, but I see several people have signed on as "participants" in the facebook event, and one person has "pledged" $20 cash... but nothing concrete in the account yet.  A couple of people have asked why I am not using an open-source fundraising site like  I have reasons.  

First, as the caregiver for WGIAC, I'm concerned that my fundraising in my name (to protect his privacy) might raise conflict-of-interest questions among people who don't know me and my history with WGIAC (e.g. "Why is his caregiver having checks mailed to her?   Sketchy!).  I don't have the time to deal with those questions, should they arise.  

Second, I want to respect WGIAC's privacy by not open-sourcing his needs to the general public.  Facebook offers a slightly more contained space in which to share his story and request support.  

Third, requires either the fundraiser or the donors to pay a 7% service fee on donations.  This is certainly favorable to the overhead costs associated with operation a 501(c)3 non-profit, but I still don't want our donors to pay a "sales tax" on their donation... and I don't want to do it either, honestly, I think that Ed and I are already doing quite a bit.  

Fourth, open-source fundraising sites like give donors the option of paying with credit or debit card.  This sounds like it should be a redeeming quality:  convenience for donors, who would then be more likely to donate, right?  After deducting the 7% service charge, sends a check in the mail to the recipient.  Here are my issues with that, as pertains to our situation: it is unclear whether they send a check for every single donation or one check for all donations.  I don't want WGIAC to have to deal with a bunch of checks (he already rolls around with a sack full of them from Social Security and Medicaid, and, although he is super-organized, it is a pain-in-the-ass-of-his-life).  I don't have an address in the US other than my parent's address, and I'd prefer to not burden them with checks, either... even though that's listed as an option on this blog and on facebook.  Electronic is better for all, in this situation, if able.

Fifth, WGIAC hates anything that puts him in a "charity-case" light.  He clearly needs some assistance, no question there.  However, his sense of independence and quality of life are improved by remaining as anonymous as possible.  If he gets a check from "a group of people that Amelie knows," it will be better than getting a bunch of checks and well-wishes from people he's never met.  For some people, that makes not a whit of difference.  For this guy, it does.  Thanks in advance for joining me as I continue respect that as best as I am able.  

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