I hear you. My issue is that while everyone runs around spending money on things people don't really need, so many need so much. And we don't - as a society - really seem to think about those people. Ever. It cheeses me off that Jesus was ALL ABOUT the poor - yet "his" holiday doesn't reflect that any more.The whole thread of Merry Hatemas arose out of having just been out to run a quick errand. I live in an affluent community. Seeing the guy driving his Maserati or that horrible Porsche SUV is commonplace. The well-kept women in their expensive yoga pants and even more expensive hairdos tool around in their Mercedes SUV's is also a common sight. Yet there was a guy at the intersection - run down, dirty, holding a cardboard sign begging help - and these people in their expensive cars with their expensive lives rushed right past him, or fiddled with their phone to avoid making eye contact. They went on to go buy an expensive bottle of wine from the wine store in the shopping center where this occurred, doubtlessly bound for this party or that where they all talked about Christmas shopping and kids and all of that stuff. It was like the guy was a vapor, and even worse: the irony of their indifference in the context of all of their Christmas hustle and bustle seemed to be totally missed. It just. Pushed. Me. Over. The. Edge.
A few days ago, I received a request from the partner (Liz) of a friend (Kim) to help with some year end fundraising for Kim and the enormous medical bills she is facing. Both individuals are members of this community. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, they came here because of me. We know each other through the wide world of animal rescue. And until I received the request to write about Kim and ask for assistance from the Daily Kos community, I had no idea how badly Kim - my friend - has struggled and suffered. I had no idea how very on the razor's edge she is living right now, no idea that she was facing down - after already facing down so much - a looming crisis.
The themes here are going to be familiar to so very many of you. An unexpected long-term Very Serious illness (nearly fatal, frankly) followed by the loss of a job followed by an inexplicable inability to become re-employed soon to be followed by the loss of long-term unemployment benefits (Merry Hatemas, everyone).
And I didn't even know any of this was going on with her - couldn't have known, frankly, because she just doesn't wear the worry and the struggle on her sleeve. I've always blanched at the "Happy Warrior" descriptor (thanks to Romney and Reagan, mostly) - but I can't think of a person more deserving of that approach - that demeanor - than Kim.
Indulge me, my dear fellow Kossacks, while I make my plea. Because in my heart, I really, really need to help Kim and her family and maybe - just maybe - save Christmas for myself. I think this is the only way I can see doing it. More over the fold.
The two Kossacks I mention in the intro are Kim (Feral20) and Liz (lizmugavero). Yes, they're pretty new - but don't let that dissuade you. They came here when I, nannyboz and Persiflage were posting here to help them with a financially intense vet bill for a cat they had rescued. They both really like it here - it is a kindred community for them.
I first "met" Kim when I was working a very, very difficult animal rescue placement. Things in life seem to intertwine and overlap for me between my political and rescue worlds. When I say that, I mean that a lot of the more difficult cases I find myself involved with are ones where the person who is desperately trying to find placement for their cat or cats is doing so because of some catastrophic event that has occurred in their lives. Most recently, it's been because they've lost their home and are facing foreclosure.
That's how I first got involved with Kim. I was forwarded an email from a lady who was losing her home and farm. I realized that I recognized this lady's name and when I Googled to try to figure out why, her case was very highly publicized. Her loan had been sold and sold and she had been given the typical corrupt banking industrial complex runaround on to whom to make payments and how much of a payment to make to avoid foreclosure, and then one day - wham. Foreclosure notice received. She fought it for months - and ultimately lost.
At any rate, she was also a rescuer and had successfully rehomed 6 of the 8 cats that needed accommodation. The two left - Moe and Shiloh - were a very, very special case. Moe was a social 10 year old buff and white boy with a great personality. He was also diabetic - requiring insulin shots twice daily. Moe was bonded with his very best friend Shiloh, an 8 year old semi-feral fluffy kitty. Shiloh, in fact, relied on Moe's confidence and protection to be ok.
For those of you who do rescue, you know how difficult it is to rehome a senior cat, and at 10 years old, Moe's a senior. Now add the fact that he comes with a health condition (diabetes) and a human-socially-challenged friend who is also a senior and you're in rescue hell. This type of rescue really takes a full court press - you have to be willing to look outside of a specific geographic area for the cats to have a chance. Moe and Shiloh were facing being euthanized if we couldn't pull this together.
Enter Kim. Although she's a good 7 hour drive from me (in other words, not local), she picked up my Facebook plea for these two sweet cats and put it out to HER network. She called and emailed and shared and wheedled and begged.
And she found Moe and Shiloh a fully qualified, checked forever home. And THEN she coordinated the transport - found the drivers that would get Moe & Shiloh from the DC Metro area to New England one hour, one driver, and one chunk of love at a time. To this day Moe and Shiloh are doing well. Moe's diabetes is under control, and at last check, it looked like he might be moving towards where he doesn't even require insulin and his glucose can be controlled through diet alone. Shiloh is getting more people-friendly as well.
After that, Kim and I have worked on a number of issues in the rescue world. She was instrumental in finding safe, no-kill rescue for two sweet seniors who were surrendered to a kill shelter in Maryland and in coordinating the life-saving transport that got them from Maryland to New Jersey and beyond. Every time I make a plea to raise funds for emergency medical care or vetting so that a death row shelter cat can be saved, Kim picks it up and shares it out. She kicks in her own donation as well, she and Liz both. I reciprocate and try to do the same for her and their rescued cats and dogs.
This has been going on the majority of this year. I could see Kim's picture on Facebook and knew that (if you read at the link at the start of the diary on Kim's medical issues) something was up with her health wise. When we would talk on the phone, she referenced once or twice having to go to an alternative medicine-type appointment or a doctor's appointment, so I knew that she was dealing with health issues, but she never strayed from the task at hand - rescue - to share with me how serious her concerns were and how complete the battle she has already fought and continues to fight was and would be.
When she and Liz would kick $10 towards a fundraising project I had, I never knew that that $10 really, really mattered to them - in a very large way - in their daily lives and that they had decided that whatever it was I was trying to accomplish was worth it for them to prioritize and gift me with that money.
One of my more recent fundraising efforts has been for two beautiful bonded 8 year old siblings who were surrendered to a shelter that is truly hell on earth after their owner died. They both came down with calicivirus (BAD) after they went to rescue, and the bill to save them (and they did survive and are recovering) in total was $3700. Not chump change. I did what I do - I assembled a fundraiser and begged and pleaded for shares and donations. And Kim and Liz donated, not once but twice. I also got a $500 donation from out of the clear blue sky on that fundraiser, and that meant a LOT - but not as much as Kim's and Liz's comparatively smaller donation, because they had to dig deep to give me that assistance.
When Liz reached out to me to ask me to write about Kim and ask for this community's help, I told her I had to sit down and think about how I would go about it in a way that would be meaningful. I told her I was going to have to put it all out there - Kim's health and employment challenges, their financial struggles, all of it. They gave me full reign to write about what I felt would help each of you - as you consider how and where to apply your precious dollars - as the year draws to a close. I asked Liz to send me a summary of Kim's rescue activities so that I could be more specific, but I've decided not to include all of that here, because I think just telling my own stories above gives you, the reader, and idea of how selflessly Kim devotes her life and resources and efforts and energy to caring for those who can't care for themselves. What I will tell you is that what I DID get back from Liz - while filled with facts - was also totally woven through with love for Kim. Reading what she wrote for me was reminiscent of reading what ANY of us would say about the person we loved. It was like watching Kim being lifted up with words of admiration by Liz.
So back to hating Christmas. I hate that I hate Christmas. I hate that I look around and think it's all a big joke, a terrible farce that utterly misses the point. I hate that people continue to surrender their old cats for "no time" at Christmas and I - and Kim and Liz - and nannyboz and Persiflage - and countless other nameless, faceless kind souls - scramble in spite of the holiday and the traffic and their own confined financial resources to save those old unwanted cats. I hate that long-term unemployment benefits are out the door on 12/28, and Merry Effing Christmas to all of you slackers out there living high on the dole of government assistance (eyeroll). I hate that - generally, but especially at Christmas, our society isn't completely overwhelmed by outrage at the cuts to food stamps and other vital, necessary forms of assistance. This is when we're all supposed to be focused on each other - on our by-God common humanity and responsibility to each other, not turning a blind eye and heading off to a nice party with our expensive bottle of wine, our freshly done nails, in our expensive European SUVs.
That's what started my Facebook rant last night - the utter pointlessness of it all. But when I woke this morning, I woke thinking about Kim and all that I had learned about her through the loving words of those around her (in addition to what I already knew personally), and I realized that the spirit - the real spirit of giving absent so acutely at this time of year - could be regained for me if I just wrote this the right way and helped Kim in whatever small way I'm able.
That's what I'm supposed to be doing - not hating those people just going about their business.
So I'm asking. If you have any funds to spare, please consider visiting Kim's fundraising page and making a donation. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. There are almost 1M registered users here - if enough of you have even $5 to spare and you directed it Kim's way, you would immeasurably enrich her life and soul in the most meaningful way.
As I look back on what I've written, I am sad that sometimes words alone can't really tell the whole story. I hope the glimpse I've been available to provide sways my cause for writing it. And I hope that in whatever way - selfishly - I'm able to help Kim so that I can get off this bitter Christmas-hating ledge. I realize that there are way too many Kim's out there, and many of you here (pretty much ALL of you here) concern yourselves with the Kims of this world, and that I'm asking you to focus on this Kim at this time, and that's a lot to ask. In rescue, thinking about all the cats in the shelter can become overwhelming. In our hearts, we know that we can't save all of them but our souls yearn to do just that. It's often so crushing to know that you can't save them all that some people simply have to leave rescue to allow their broken hearts to heal. I get through it by focusing on THIS cat that can be saved. The one right there that I know - if I focus and try - I can get out and into a great new loving home. It's a drop in the ocean - but the ripples DO spread. So please, consider helping Kim as she faces this uncertain chapter in a life that has been too hard (imho) already. You can find the link to her fundraiser as well as her medical and employment story here.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions or need more information, please email me privately or ask in the comments. Kim and Liz will be by to try to answer as they can. My email is renarf (at) comcast (dot) net.