My text message conversation went something like this:
Me: “I refused some of my pay today.”
Andrew: “What??? Have you gone soft in the head?”
Me: “No. I’ve just seen the end of year forecast for work. We are facing a massive shortfall. We have over 300 deaf kids to help and I’ve just seen a letter from the state government saying we are only funded for 45.”
Andrew: “Oh. Got it now. Not soft in the head at all. As you were.”
This news comes around the same time that Andrew and I finally get to drop off the car to have the wheelchair lifter fitted. 6 months ago, I rang charities asking for help to fundraise for this vital equipment. One charity said if we could prove Andrew had his neuro-muscular condition before he was 18 then they could help… but there was a 2 year waiting list. Another told me how hard it was to get funding and then sent me information about a government scheme. The scheme was only for families and even if we had been eligible, it was a drop in the ocean compared to the real cost. I rang another charity – yes, we help with making vehicles accessible for wheelchairs – but only for children!
Despairing that our need didn’t seem to fit into anyone’s criteria, I didn’t know where to turn. I told my boss and my colleagues what was happening. They didn’t blink.
In the coming weeks, friends, colleagues and people who were brand new to the Organisation, and didn’t know me from a bar of soap rallied around. People gave up time after work and on the weekend. Some donated goods for the garage sale; others came to the fundraising dinner; a group of ‘cake bakers’ sprung into action; a sausage sizzle was organised along with a cheese stand. Many gave private donations. I was absolutely blown away.
Today, someone asked me how the Shepherd Centre was different to other services. It’s hard to answer – not being an employee, a recipient, or an observer of those other services. But I felt I could say one thing with confidence: it’s not in the Shepherd Centre spirit to turn people away. If help is desperately needed, help is given. The things people did for Andrew and I – on their own time – was consistent with what they do for our families. I admire their passion and dedication and think myself lucky to work with such a fantastic group of people.
My friends and colleagues at The Shepherd Centre supported Andrew and I in ways for which I can never thank them enough. Giving up a little of my pay was the least I could do right now.
If you are thinking about giving a donation to a charity this Christmas, please consider The Shepherd Centre. For more information see the following article:
Disclaimer: the above is my own personal opinion. I would also like to stress that all assistance provided to Andrew and myself was on people’s own time and independent of the Organisation.