Behind The Scenes

The act of fundraising is an act of vulnerability…for both the initiator and the initiated upon. We receive so many requests for money that it is impossible to give to everything. Lately it has been difficult to give to anything.
I know what it is like to be initiated upon. Internally, I have three responses.
A) My empathy is sparked and I donate money
B) I am receptive but cannot afford to give at this time
C) I am not interested in this cause
One of those three responses is what goes through my mind when someone asks me to donate to a cause. I am not proud of the response (C), but for the sake of honesty…
Ahhhhh, but now I am again in the position of the initiator. And not just for a school magazine or a mission trip to an exotic Latin American country (insert wink here).
I am an open-ended fundraiser. Yikes! Is that even legal or moral? I want to accept money from people as much as I can for as long as I can. Sounds corrupt, doesn’t it?
But the crazy thing is that I will probably never have a penny of it come back around to me. Yes, my autistic son and our family would greatly benefit from more funding for autism research. And we would benefit even further from legislation protecting and providing for Tyler and for schools to have more money to be equipped to accept more children with disabilities in the classroom.
But that is not my Why I Am Doing This. I am doing this because we paid out of pocket for Tyler’s therapy for a year while we worked on getting him diagnosed. This time was spent on a waiting list because we don’t have enough qualified clinics for autism in central Arkansas. I am doing this because I cannot afford to quit my job to take care of my sons fulltime. I am doing this because, while this has been hard and expensive and frustrating, we are the lucky ones. How many families can afford to spend a minimum of $360 a month for one hour of therapy a week? How many mothers are able to work instead of being forced into part-time or no job status because they don’t have anyone to help get their child to therapy or have a daycare that is equipped to care fir their child? How many parents can work full-time, spend hours on the phone with their insurance company, doctors, and therapists, go to special ed school meetings, struggle to keep their child in school or ultimately decide that homeschool is their only option? On top of the extra time and attention that child needs? And the other siblings as well? And the spouse? House?
It is daunting and I am not quite sure how we are going to do it all. But we are doing it now. So I am asking for help for other families who aren’t managing. The ones who are struggling and possibly breaking. The ones whose child can’t get their therapy because its too expensive. The ones whose child really needs that new medicine to be tested or that new therapy technique researched.
This is a big need. Very little money going in and so much needed. So I don’t have a number, or a target, or a stopping point. Every dollar is appreciated, every dollar is valuable, every dollar helps.
I recently met my $1000 goal for my Walk Now for Autism Speaks 5K this fall. I have been asked why I am still trying to raise more. Don’t I think I am making my current donators feel less significant?
I also ask for donations on every blog post and regularly on Facebook. Considering that I was raised in a family where fundraising was considered taboo, do I feel like I am breaking a sacred trust when doing this? Is every request hard? Can I imagine you rolling your eyes and your finger lingering over that unfriend button? Can I feel your frustration because autism advocacy just isn’t your thing?
Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes
So why do I keep asking every day?
1) This is my life. I am a wife to a wonderful man and I am a mother to two beautiful boys. One of those boys has autism. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking about this.
2) We only recently received Tyler’s diagnosis and started coming out of that deep, dark waiting period that was the hardest, most frustrating, most confusing chapter of my life. Advocating is my healing process because I feel that if I can help prevent other families going through what we went through, that it will mean there was a reason I had to go through it.
3) Not everyone is on Facebook every day. Someone who would like to make a contribution might need that 67th post.
4) When my sister asked for contributions to a walk she was doing last year, I didn’t have the money at the time. When I finally remembered and had money, the Walk had already happened and I was really disappointed that I had dropped the ball and forgotten about it.
5) I read that if you really believe in what you are fundraising for, that it isn’t something you should be embarrassed to do. It is something you are compelled to do. I don’t want to just raise money for the 5k Walk I am doing. I want to start a movement. To make this world a place where people know what autism is and where autistic children are valued by their peers and teachers, and later their coworkers and community. A place where autism doesn’t break a family, but makes it stronger. A place where autism isn’t a disorder but a description. I am left-handed. I do not have left-handed disorder.
So this is why I do what I do. This is why I continue to ask. This is why I risk being unfriended.
Because this is for the ones who cannot ask themselves. For their mothers and fathers and siblings who are fighting to hold it together one more day.
How can I not?
Please consider going to my link below and making a contribution to Autism Speaks if you are feeling an (A) response today.
http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum
Thank you,
Rachel Flinchum
(C) Rachel Flinchum 7/6/2013

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2 thoughts on “Behind The Scenes

  1. Rachel I admire your honesty and courage! I will always put you and your family in my prayers!
    Nelfa

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