|Photo copyright River and Charles Curtis-Stanley, 2014; all rights reserved.|
This is Nishime, "my little sister." Most folks know her as Kitsap River.
Yes, I know we don't look much alike — that whole coloring thing — but just because we're not blood doesn't mean we're not family. River and Charles honored us by adopting us as family within the way of their own tradition, as brother and sister, years ago.
And now my family needs help, so that they don't lose their home.
The seeds of this were planted three years ago, in 2011, at the very same time that the seeds of something wonderful and life-giving were planted. In fact, they're the same seeds. But they were planted in the soil of a land that doesn't have a proper safety net, particularly not for people with catastrophic health conditions, and so, as usual, the fruit winds up growing in two directions: one branch is nutritious; the other, poisonous.
The nutritious, life-giving fruit was the new kidney she received early that year. If you recall, I spent just over a month up in Washington with them, to help with driving and lifting and all the things she was barred from doing for those weeks. [I didn't actually do all that much, but it was a lovely break for me, and at least I could keep her company in all those waiting rooms.]
The poisonous fruit was toxic levels of debt. Despite receiving disability and having health insurance through Charles's employer, any undertaking of the magnitude of an organ transplant means huge costs for the patient and her family. Costs that aren't covered by any program, agency, or safety net. And add to that their particular situation: four days a week of additional fares on the ferry, plus gas and parking, because the facility is the University Medical Center across the sound, is just one small example of the kinds of costs that are unavoidable.
So they delayed that year's property taxes on the house, thinking that things would right themselves the following year. But it's been one thing after another (isn't it always?), and the constant daily follow-up needed to maintain her transplant (and therefore stay alive) have turned out to be much more daunting that anyone could have anticipated. [I suspect this is one of those situations where it's best that you don't know just how daunting it will be, or you'd never go through with it, and we need her here with us.]
At any rate, if I understand this correctly, there's a wrinkle in Washington State law that requires a property owner to pay a year's worth of back taxes in one lump sum — no payment schedules or other arrangements. That means that they must come up with the whole amount, $3,700, or lose their home on the auction block come April. They've managed to put aside the lion's share of it: $2,900, give or take a couple of hundred, depending on other needs over the remainder of this month. But they're still short $800, at a a minimum. Say $1,000, to be safe.
Actually, what River won't tell you, but I will, is that they've been juggling frantically for so long to make this work that it works out to more than $1,000, because the power bill is past due and there are other expenses mounting. But $1,000 saves their home.
And saves her life. Actually, Charles's life, as well. Because he has chronic health issues, too. And if they lose their home, I know that River, with her transplant issues, will not survive homelessness.
And I can't let that happen.
I know we're in for something. I don't know how much yet, because I have to go through our own finances today after the farrier leaves and see what we can juggle. But I'm asking you to consider kicking in a few bucks to help save their home. Here's her GoFundMe page. If 20 of us can give $50 — if 40 of us can give $25 — it's done. They can write the check in a few days, and I can breathe easier knowing that my family still has a roof over their heads.
And if you can't donate, please simply share this with everyone in your networks, both on- and offline.