Don’t GoFundMe, GoFund Them!

It is all about the ask. But, it is difficult. Especially, when it turns on the give.

Maybe it is coming of age as a minister hearing of the abuses of the ask from pastors who it later turned out used the asked-for-funds on themselves. Whatever the reason I find it difficult to ask someone else for money for a project even when I am convinced the project is utterly worthwhile.

The Lesson of the Ice Maker

Recently our commercial ice maker ran its course at Snow Hill. Heading into summer I suggested we buy ice to use for our Food Pantry since the two groups that use our ice weekly will be taking the summer off. Sure, it would be an inconvenience but anyone aware of summer giving in the local church knows larger expenditures that may be delayed is a good thing. One never knows when an air conditioner may go on the blink or worse go out.

Then the call came. One of our fellows, who does not just ask but also participates in the give, called up and said, “If it is OK with you, we have the money for the ice maker.” Who was I to say, “It’s not OK?” This is great news. Our volunteers will not have to depend on bagged ice but will have it on the ready when we need to ice down dairy items to provide families in need.

My friend Spencer once told me, “It does not hurt to ask.” He was not referencing money but I often thought to myself, “Well, that depends on what is being asked.”

It Doesn’t Hurt To Ask

Today I find myself stretching my own box. Really it is not for me but for a group whose story I have not been able to escape.

A few years ago my friend John invited me to go with him to teach a group of pastors in Guatemala. We would offer a week intensive across at least one, if not two, language barriers. Pastors young and old would travel long distances to take in what some in the United State may acquire online. The terrain and geography complicated the trip as some would walk for hours just to catch a bus they would ride for another period of time. All of that to arrive by 8:00 a.m.. They would then make the return trip, work a bit before dark, and then get up and do it all over again.

LaProvidencia03When I listened to Bill and Linda describe how they ended up in San Cristobal Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, I was captivated by their adventure, risk, and most of all their interest in people. During their backpacking up and down mountainous terrain they happened onto the Pokomchi people. That was 1999.

Since that time they established ASOSAP – Hope of the Pokomchi – with the aim of providing clean water, improved sanitation, health care, and Christian friendship to a people descended from Mayan Indians. Clustered in small villages, often farming corn on the steep slopes of the mountains, the Pokomchi may be about 100,000 strong. Due to the small concentration of people, many agencies opt for larger, more dense populations in which to invest. Not so with Bill and Linda.

It Begins with Education

As someone with three degrees beyond elementary and secondary education, I value education. When John asked if I would help teach, it was like asking a sugar addict if she would like some cotton candy. Whatever way I could help invest in others to learn that which would be helpful in their vocation gave/gives me a good bit of energy.

Bill and Linda began a scholarship campaign for Pokomchi young people whose free education would not get them to an American High School. Investing in several young people became both a model of empowerment and the creation of a natural network. Today one of the young ladies in whom they invested serves as President of ASOSAP. Glenda and her family’s home provides the headquarters for ASOSAP in a burg adjacent to San Cristobal called Nis Nic.

Another young lady in whom they invested just received her nursing degree this past October. Consuelo provides ASOSAP and Pokomchi villages with a chronic care nursing program. Out of this work developed the construction and development of three Health Posts. A new health post is in the development stages.

Health Care Matters

MapLaProvidencia

The map represents villages served by La Providencia. Do not let the layout confuse. This is not like a densely populated addition in a suburb. These are independent villages mapped by walking up and down hills and mountains to locate those who may be served by La Providencia Health Post.

While we in the US continue to debate healthcare and its associated costs, the Pokomchi live such distances from a hospital that would not rise to such a level here in the States. In our small city of Tuttle, I can drive to two clinics in just over a mile from my house. We would complain if we had to walk our toddlers that distance for health care. Consider making that walk up and over mountainous terrain with a little sick one just to see what we might refer to as a triage nurse.

What we pay in office visits and outpatient surgeries arrived at on paved roads, outpaces the cost to provide rudimentary care to the Pokomchi such that we would have to venture to a way of life 100 years ago to get close to those standards. For instance, the cost of my knee scope last year, one surgical procedure, before insurance, would provide more than enough to support La Providencia for one year. The nurse’s salary is just $5900 for one year! Medicines for one year at a health post is $4600. Add in some operational costs and the total is just under $12,000.

Getting to the Ask

I could go on. In fact, I may offer regular updates to help paint the picture. I have not begun to talk about the water and sanitation projects that help curb illnesses that we have long grown unaccustomed.

LaProvidencia02Here is what I am asking. Go to my GoFundMe page to help me fund the La Providencia Health Post. Bill and Linda’s network is so small and the economy of scale for the Pokomchi people is such they cannot begin to afford a pool to support these very basic health posts. In fact the entire work of ASOSAP runs on about $100,000 US! Their projects are funded by interested people like you and me.

Many of us have large Facebook networks, even if we do not know all of them personally. Share this post on your Facebook Page after having gone over and donated your $10. Yes, the ask is for $10 to demonstrate the power of crowdfunding. Already a couple of friends have given $100. If you would like to give more than $10, fantastic!

Tag your Twitter friends with the news that you have just signed up to help provide health care to the Pokomchi in Guatemal. Use whatever network of which you are apart and help me Go Fund Them!

A Few Answers

Maybe you have questions, Feel free to contact me via email or leave a comment to this post.

1. Hope of the Pokomchi (Some volunteers are putting together a bi-lingual website for ASOSAP.) is the US partner with ASOSAP and is a registered 501c3.

2. Your gift is tax deductible for charitable giving.

3. All of the money given will be drawn by Hope of the Pokomchi.

4. If you prefer not to give via GoFundMe, contact me and we will provide an alternate offline means for your gift.

5. All of the money goes to La Providencia excepting what is required by GoFundMe to host the project.

LaProvidencia05

Any additional monies received above the goal will go to replace the roof at La Providencia.

6. Any money over the goal of $24,000, which represents secure funding for 2015 and 2016, will go toward replacing the roof at La Providencia Health Post.

7. Thank you!

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.