Saturday, June 22, 2013

There is now a great new program at the Foundation Beyond Belief!

Recently I posted about a need in our community and a more specific need for a friend in NC, that are related. My friend Celia, is still in desperate need of rent, food and money to get her power turned back on. She and her son are close to losing their apartment and while there are some potential job opportunities, they will come to late. She needs the power turned back on now and has only a couple of days left to pay rent. She and her son both have autism spectrum disorders and a lot of struggles, as outlined here, at the fundraiser page I put up for her. She is very desperate and unfortunately help is coming just a little too late...

But help for needs such as hers is coming! I have been very frustrated by the need for infrastructure by which secular communities could help our own. By which we might prevent some of us in need, from having to lie to religious organizations, be proselytized at, and/or make dishonest declarations of faith, just to get a little help. Now meet, FBB's Helping Hands:

Foundation Beyond Belief's Helping Hands is meant for individuals needing help in tough times. Our vision for Helping Hands is that secular humanists, atheists, and freethinkers will have a centralized method of reaching out to the movement for help. Natural disasters and crises are obvious reasons to need aid, but not the only reasons. People who have suffered a serious illness or injury, loss of residence, unemployment, and other negative life events might also need a helping hand. People may nominate themselves or others for aid from Foundation Beyond Belief's Beyond Belief Network and Humanist Giving members. FBB will promote the specific needs of worthy applicants. We will also attempt to put recipients in contact with local freethought or charitable organizations in their area that can help further.

Now there is more that I think we need to work out, but this is a brilliant starting point. I can't begin to express how excited I am to see it. I am not just excited because this will afford an important opportunity for non-theists, skeptics and freethinkers to get help without religious strings attached, but because this will afford non-theists, skeptics and freethinkers who want to help out our own. We need to be able to do that, be able to fulfill a need that only we can reasonably manage - that we should be managing. With that said then, what more is needed?

I'm going on five years now, since I lost the roof over my family's heads. For some time I was very seriously considering taking my own life, because the social security benefits would be an important contribution to my children's lives. I wasn't sure what else I could do for them and I had just failed them utterly. I was quite seriously weighing the benefits of me being alive, versus my children having that financial aid. My children's mother was making similar considerations. We actually discussed at one point, whether it might be good for one of us to commit suicide and if so, which of us. That is how very desperate we were, how desperate I was. I actually asked my parents if they would take my boys, really not sure what I would do.

When you are desperate enough to start considering suicide for the pittance your children would receive every month from the state, it is virtually impossible to explore what options might be available to you. There are a remarkable number of resources out there, enough so that not even social service organizations that try to compile lists of local resources are generally able to find them all. I know this because as the mentally ill only parent of mentally ill children, I am actively seeking what is available to help us. I get compiled lists on a frequent basis, not just for myself, but because I come into contact with a lot of families that need help and it is nice to know what is out there - whether for me and/or the boys, or for someone else. There are a lot of places to seek help, a lot of venues that offer aid of various sorts. But of course all of them have limited resources. And state aid can be cumbersome and complicated to obtain - or even to learn if you are qualified for.

We need to help those of us who are in crisis, to find out what helps we qualify for and to obtain it. When you are not sure you will have a home next week - or tomorrow, when you literally don't know where your next meal is coming from, when you are contemplating ending your life - or worse, your brain is not only not functioning at it's best, you are operating under serious deficits. You need to be at your best and could hardly be any worse. There might well be services available, help available from sources unplumbed. It would be extremely useful were we to offer help in finding out what help is available, not just from the secular community, but from their local community and even the state. This is something that local secular groups might help out with, but it is something that anyone with the internet and a telephone could manage from anywhere in the country of the person needing help.