Let me warn you before you read further: I’m going to ask you to send me any amount of money you can afford, from a few dollars to whatever. But it’s not for me. Allow me to explain…
In the last chapter of Consequential Strangers, I included a personal story about meeting some of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, among them, Violet Simmons (not her real name–hence, no photo), a single mother whose New Orleans home was under water. Violet, who had fled west across the state until she ran out of gas, was then living in one motel room with her eight children. I’ve since stayed in touch with her.
Five and half years later, Violet’s youngest child, a toddler then, is now in second grade; her oldest is the mother of three. As it turns out, Katrina wasn’t Violet’s worst enemy; poverty was–and is. Katrina just complicated matters.For example, last year Violet took out a $1000 loan–from an easy-loan company that specializes in low-income customers: “Only $99.99 a month for a thousand dollars.” The catch is, that’s only interest. Violet has already paid around $1200–but still owes the $1000 she borrowed against her car.
Making matters worse, Violet was more than ten days late this month, which allowed the company to tack on a penalty fee. Yesterday, she was informed that if she didn’t come up with $119.29 by closing time, the loan company would not only repossess her car, they’d levy additional fees.
I paid her debt, but it’s just a bandaid. So I made a deal with Violet: If she would continue to pay the $99.99 interest, and I’d pay additional money each month towards her principle.
When I got off the phone, I thought to myself, maybe some of the people I know–from good friends to consequential strangers whom I know mainly on line–might be willing to help Violet, too. Almost everyone has a spare $10 or 20 laying around.
So here I am, posting this plea on my own websites, sending it by email, and “publishing” it on Facebook.
If only 100 of you send me $10, we can pay off the loan by February 17, when her next payment is due.
If I receive more than $1000, I will put the extra money toward Violet’s electric bill, which is nearly $200 a month, and other recurring expenses.
You might wonder, “Why isn’t Violet getting a job, so she can take care of herself?” As one friend put it, “Aren’t you enabling her?” The fact is, Violet is trying. She sought help at the local community agency, filled out applications at McDonald’s and Walmart. But if former execs and MBAs are having trouble finding work, imagine how tough it is to be a single mother with a G.E.D. I see this not as enabling but as a way of helping Violet get out from under.
The cutoff date is February 15. Please act quickly and give whatever you can. Mail checks to Melinda Blau, 301 174th Street, Apt 1219, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160. Write Donation for “Violet” in the memo. Even better, send cash.
BULLETIN! Two very helpful CS of mine suggested that I get a Pay Pal account and offer this better option–an online donation
Oh, and BTW, feel free to share this message with your friends and their friends. Thanks!