Last week a friend posted this message on her Facebook:
“Well, I think I should start a Kickstarter now for Pierre’s double-leg surgery which will cost more than the downpayment on my house. :|”
In response, I encouraged her to do just that.
I’ve known Krissie for a little over a year now. We met in St. Louis at a conference called Next City Vanguard, that invited urban leaders from around the country to meet each other, learn about the city, and be recognized for their efforts.
She lives in Cleveland and I live in Dallas, so most of our interaction has been through the interwebs. But I’ve kept track of what she’s been doing and I’m in awe at how much of a die-hard Clevelander she is. She’s involved in everything, works at a non-profit, has one of the coolest insider blogs about Cleveland, and of course, has a great little rescue dog, Pierre. She’s the quintessential community builder.
So, when she posted that message, I was ecstatic to help! To give someone, who never asks for anything, a way to help her dog — that’s just a no-brainer.
I had crowdfunded a few things myself, so I sent her a quick email outlining how to go about doing it and some pointers about inviting people to help out. She set up her campaign that day to raise $1,000. The cost of the procedure to fix her dogs knees will ultimately cost $5,000, but she only asked for a fifth of that. In addition to the crowdfunding, she’s picked up work as a caterer on weekends to help raise funds by the end of the year.
What she also picked up was a few haters. Some folks have scorned her for crowdfunding to pay for the operation. One said, “I have $3,000 in medical bills and you don’t see me asking for money.”
Another person wrote her this message:
“I like you and think you are a good person who does many good things so please understand that. I am shocked and disappointed that you would choose to ask people to donate money for Pierre’s “knee replacements.” It is totally absurd. There are so many causes in our neighborhood let alone our country and this world that should supercede what you are asking others to do. For instance: Ohio City Bike Coop, Providence House, Breast Cancer research, various disaster relief causes, etc. Please consider taking down that and returning the donations to the people who gave money. My opinion of you, whether you care or not, does not change because of this. I just wanted you to hear what I am sure other people might be afraid to say. Peace”
The irony, which I’m sure this person didn’t know, is that Krissie does give to the Ohio City Bike Coop. But that’s beside the point.
The point is that there are people in our cities who are great ambassadors, who will go out of their way to help others, and play a vital role in our communities, but when they need help will be reduced to shaming in the name of greater causes.
The lesson here is about community. Community means helping people in your community, whether it’s for breast cancer research or for knee surgery for a friend’s dog, and for someone not to see that means they have a very narrow understanding of community.
The strength of our cities is great people who live in them — especially, the people who give a damn. If you don’t see that and you don’t support your people, then they will leave.
The good news, now that Krissie bought a house, I think she’s staying a while. The more good news, is that there are a lot of people who do believe in Krissie and want to help. To those folks, I say “You’re fucking awesome!” And so let’s end this entry on a good note.
Here was Krissie’s response to that message:
“hi [redacted]. i am not surprised that you would feel this way, considering your stance on pets. i was hesitant to start the crowd tilt — if you see on facebook page, someone suggested it and i said no. i’ve never asked for $ for myself. then i had a number of people message me and say i should do it because they wanted to give. so i did it and i’ve been stunned by the support i’ve received. i’ve had a friend who runs a venue in cleveland offer to let me use it to have a fundraiser for pierre — and incredibly generous offer, considering the normal rental costs of the venue. and i got this message just this morning:
Krissie, I believe in you. You do great things in Cleveland and any way I can support you and express how proud I am to have you in Cleveland I will do it over and over again. Cleveland needs more great people like you. I see Pierre as an extension of you and it makes me happy to pitch in.
i understand there are more sympathetic causes than pierre or myself. i give to those causes: i’m on the board and donating member of the Ohio City Bike Coop. i give monthly to a number of organizations straight from my paycheck. i volunteer many hours of my time to many causes. you know all this, so i’m disappointed and sad that your concept of community doesn’t include helping someone out when they are in need of a little help. i have no expectation that everyone who knows me would give, nor do i want that. i recognize people do what they can. i’ve had friends have personal fundraisers for school, trips, etc in the past and i’ve given $ when i could. and i’m humbled that some people have cared about me, and/or pierre, enough to lighten the load of his medical costs.
i’m not going to take it down and give back the money. no one has been duped. no one has been bribed. everyone who has supported me has done so willingly. i’ll accept their assistance with gratitude and a happy heart. and in the future, if you need any assistance, i’ll do the same despite this letter. namaste.”