I wanted to give some insight about being receptive to the charity of well-meaning people. My coworkers were always supportive in listening to all my fears and concerns, in particular Michael’s health issues with his spinal muscular atrophy.
Reluctant to let friends help
When two lovely co-workers approached me on their plans they had already put them into motion. At first, I was very reluctant to accept their generosity. I suppose my emotions were feeling embarrassed about accepting charity. I felt that his needs were strictly my husband's and my responsibility. At this point, Mike had graduated college and was employed. His feeling was that he could take care of his own needs and didn’t expect his parents to provide for his needs.
The van Mike needed was expensive
The purpose of this fundraiser was for Mike to purchase a handicapped van. At this point, he was using his scooter to move around safely and needed the van to transport his scooter with him. This really was a necessity and not a luxury item. Complete independence for work and a social life was exactly what he was hoping for.
Anger and pride get in the way
When the time came for me to alert Mike to this plan, it was a scene. He was so angry with me thinking that I initiated this for his benefit. Being proud and determined he informed me to thank these co-workers but he will not attend and he wanted them to give whatever monies collected to a charity of their choice.
A real dilemma for me was to inform these lovely ladies he was too proud to accept their help. They had put so much time and energy into this event.
Reframing the motivation of the generous friends
So now my husband steps in and gives Mike some food for thought on this. He tells a story about walking through the park and finding Mike sitting on a bench unable to walk home on his own. His story continued with him picking Mike up and carrying him home. The moral of this story was that it wasn’t charity that motivated him, it was LOVE. And that was the same motivation for these ladies.
End result was he did appear at this fundraiser and had a good time with his family and friends. He also met some new friends who were kind and happy to meet him.
This fundraiser gave Mike the opportunity to purchase a used van quickly. Since he was going to use this van for work the Department of OVR (Office of Vocational Rehabilitation) provided the cost of equipment to enable this van for a disabled person. So with the help of friends and a government agency Mike was on his way to becoming a self-sufficient adult.
Fewer years of struggle, more years of independence
Please understand that Mike would have eventually saved enough to purchase this van. Realistically it would have taken a few years of struggling, meanwhile he was living and working in a safe manner.
My hope is that by hearing this story someone will understand and accept the help and not allow their pride to prevent the goodness of caring people. Accept the love and care from well meaning people and say “Thank You!”
Is self advocacy a part of your daily life?