Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Fearless Leader

Peggy is my fearless leader. She runs the "MCS"Beacon of Hope Foundation. (www.toxicinjury.net) Finding her was one of the biggest blessings I've received from this disability.

I came across Peggy and the Beacon 6 years ago, while researching my condition on the net. I really liked their mission statement, and was considering volunteering with them. I made the call.

Peggy answered. The first thing that poured over me, thru the line, was the warmth of southern hospitality. Pure comfort. I could tell, with in the first few minutes,  I was talking to a compassionate, tenacious and feisty woman. One of the first things that she wanted to know was, what did I need? As in, physical stuff.

By this time, I'd acquired enough knowledge to know that the majority of TIs lose their jobs, and subsist well below the poverty line. I think she had a tough time believing that I didn't need anything. TIs need: speaker phones, computers, (these are their safest connection to the outside world and to their community) as well as a host of other pieces of equipment that makes their disability easier. Peggy's foundation provides this kind of equipment to TIs that can't afford it. It was great information, even though I didn't need help purchasing it. What impressed me most was how much she wanted to help. I liked this woman.

Now, you all know, I tend to be blunt, so I squirreled right in and asked, her some point blank questions. It didn't phase her a bit. This was a woman I could work with!

That was the beginning. Over the course of the last 6 years I've learned that she is one of the most honorable people I know. She has the kind of integrity that you don't find much anymore. She still gets outraged by evil, and still battles for righteousness. In fact, her daughter Julia (the co-founder) and I have to reign her in, or she will work her self into the ground, to help others.

She is the driving force behind the foundation. Not only was she taking calls, counseling and comforting any and all that inquired, but she drives a campaign to all the heads of government to raise awareness and education about toxic injury. She's the one that puts in months of work, making contacts and laying ground work to get the support and signatures for the proclamation, every year.

She's always there, just a phone call away. I've laughed with her, cried with her and problemed solved both her symptoms and mine. We've shared anger over injustice and triumph over break throughs. The triumphs are too few. This disability is so little recognized, and so disrespected in the public sector. The battles we fight are not only public, but personal, eveyminute, of every day.

I worry about her. She's poured her life out for the cause. She herself can't benefit from the Foundation, yet she has medical needs she can't afford. Most effective treatments for TIs aren't covered by insurance or Medicare/medicaid. Very few doctors are trained in Environmental medicine. Of those who do practice, most don't take Medicare. So while I work with her, problem solving for other's, I'm constantly aware of her disintegrating condition. Julia and I worry that we are going to lose her.

We are trying to come up with ways that we can get her the help she needs. Fund raising is our biggest barrier. We can't get out in the real world to do it. We refuse to charge for our services. It is unethical to ask a drowning man for $20.00 or his credit card #, before throwing him a rope. That is what so many of the other groups do... That seems like exploitation to me.

So if you have any do-able ideas, please leave a comment. I don't want to lose her. That would break my heart; she is a devoted friend, a mother, an inspiration, my rallying cry, my general, my Fearless Leader!

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