Thursday, December 26, 2013

Are You A Starving Writer? How About A Free House in Detroit?

Okay, so this one isn't free. But plenty of others are.
There's a new program in Detroit that I totally don't want you to know about if you're a starving writer, but I'll tell you about it, anyway. WriteAHouse is a Detroit based community non-profit with the goal of rehabbing abandoned houses, one resource Detroit has plenty of, and giving them to writers. Free. No charge. Gratis.

Writers have to meet certain standards, like not being a violent felon or a total deadbeat. They also need to supply a short bio, a sample of their writing and a few paragraphs about why they deserve a free house in Detroit. They also have to agree to remain in Detroit for at least two years. WtieAHouse will lease the houses to selected writers. After two years, the writers get the deed.

I lived in Detroit for years. I went to college in Detroit. I was active in community affairs. Call me crazy, but I've been thinking of returning for some time. I am totally down with this. If you're interested, check out the WriteAHouse website, look at their pitch on crowd sourcing site IndieGoGo and follow them on Twitter (@WriteAHouse). Just remember, I got there first.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm Asking for Your Help

That's me during my last hospital stay
I've been debating this for some time, but necessity has forced my hand. I'm asking for help. I'm also asking that you share this with your friends who may prove willing to help. Here's my story...

Those of you who know me well know I've done many benefits over the years. With your help, over a nine year period the Coat Party benefits raised many tens of thousands of dollars in cash and thousands of warm coats for Austin's homeless. Many of you may also remember SteveFest, where, with your help, we raised thousands of dollars for Steve Marangi, a friend who was dying of terminal throat cancer. With your help, I was able to give Steve a stable place to live pay his medical expenses and care for him for the last year of his life.

We did all of this together through the power of micro donations. Some chose to give more, but most gave $5 or $10, and because there were many of us working together, we were able to do great things. In every case, 100% of the money went directly to the cause. Venues waved their normal fees. Many people worked for free. It's something that to this day I'm very proud to have been a part these events. It's now time for me to swallow that pride.

Today, I'm the one who needs help. I'm hoping to use that same power of many people giving a little to help me make it through what is proving to be the hardest time of my life. With your help, I can make it through this time and once again be in a position to help myself and others.

I've had number of orthopedic surgeries over the years - a dozen knee reconstructions, a reconstructed shoulder, a double spinal fusion - as well as a fractured pelvis that kept me down for over a year. In all of these cases I was lucky enough to be fully insured. For the last three years of this period I was on COBRA. Though it cost me around $900 per month, it was well worth it, even with significant deductibles and copays. Since COBRA expired, about 6 years ago, I haven't been able to get any kind of insurance at any price, due to so many pre-existing conditions.

Fast forward to today.

About seven months ago I had a bad fall and severely injured my lower back. I spent ten days in Seton Hospital. As a result I can't stand for more than a few minutes or walk more than a few yards at a time. As you might imagine, I'm in constant pain. The fix is series of three major surgeries that will fuse all five of my damaged lumbar vertebrae into one using metal rods, screws and plates, a total of about 20 hours on the operating table.

If all goes well, I'll spend about two weeks in the hospital, then a few more weeks at an inpatient rehab facility. Most of this will be paid for through the Medical Assistance Program (MAP), but I'll still have significant costs, not the least of which is rent, food and basic necessities. I haven't been able to work for the past year and won't be able to work again for another year or so. I've lost my home of twenty-two years. I've racked up debts I can't pay and face expenses I won't be able to pay any time soon. Worse, I've lost dear friends who had faith in me that I am now unable to repay. I've tried to get various benefits, but so far haven't been able to cut through the red tape. I have no income and no savings. And so I'm asking you for help.

I know there are many far worse off and far more deserving than I. I encourage you to help those people, also, not instead of. But if you can spare $5 or $10 or whatever you can give, even if it's only a dollar or two, know that every little bit helps. I don't want anyone to give more than they afford. If you're in a position to give more, I'm in no position to refuse. I pledge to you do my best to be worthy of your support now and in the future. My problems are ultimately my responsibility. I'm just asking for a little help. If you'd like to help, but prefer to do it in other ways, please email me and I'll provide you with the information you need.

My PayPal account is tied to my email address:

You can easily send money through PayPal through the following link. You use a PayPal account or a credit or debit card.

Thank you for listening to my story. With your help the future story will be much brighter. Please don't hesitate to contact me through Facebook or via email with any questions or comments you may have. To those can help and those who can't, thank you and God bless.


John Avignone