Surprises for OM

Watching Over US at OM - photo courtesy Mike Elliot (used by permission)

Watching Over Us at OM – photo courtesy Mike Elliot (used by permission)

Back in May of this year, three college students from the University of Oregon’s Journalism School constructed a video about Occupy Medical in the Kickstarter format to meet the needs of their assignment. In June, they released the video onto the internet and gave us permission to do whatever we wanted with it.

Our aim was to post it on Kickstarter as a campaign to raise funds for lab fees for patients that cannot afford to pay for their own. We only asked for $2500 because we we told that another lab in town would be willing to match those funds.

We never got around to finishing this project. The volunteers at OM had too much on their plates trying to mange the patient load that has increased 5 times in the last 6 months. We were working just to keep our heads above water.

Then came the surprise.

Upworthy stumbled on our video and posted it. We did not know about this until another supporter in our area notified us of this new development. We were startled but pleased. How nice that the message that we work so hard to actualize be shared with a larger group of people. Since we are a small troop of  volunteers who are used to struggling for every donation dime, we visualized a few checks coming in for ten, maybe twenty dollars.

Then came another surprise.

We received a phone call from our ally, CALC, that a local artist named Dianne Story Cunningham had contacted them about donating to help with our lab fees. We were thrilled.

Then came the next big surprise.

Another local supporter and long time Occupy activist, Mary Broadhurst, found me at our Sunday clinic. It had been a long day. We had to open the clinic late because of mechanical problems with the bus. The day was stiflingly hot. We were short on volunteers and long on patients. I had just given out the last of our vitamin C. It was the kind of day that makes you bone-weary.

Mary walked up to me with a big grin on her face. She asked if I had heard about an upcoming donation. I nodded and smiled. She asked if I had heard about the amount yet. I shook my head. Mary steadied me for the next surprise. This donor  was covering the entire amount that we needed: $2500. I blinked. Mary said it again more slowly so my foggy brain could take in the news.

This was when the tears started. Just like like that, one of the problems that we had been struggling with was solved. I thought of all the faces of the patients that desperately needed lab tests so that they could get more complicated care. I thought of our volunteer doctors whose hands were tied because they could not proceed any farther in treatment until we could scrape together enough to pay for lab results. I thought of other volunteers scrambling behind the scenes to find a way to help these people in whatever way they could.

The problem was solved. One person stepped forward and through the efforts of college students with video cameras, community allies that understand how work together as a team, volunteers giving selflessly every Sunday, and few people with the energy to make a positive change in the lives of complete strangers, this problem was solved. It was overwhelming to me.

I have seen this generosity before at Occupy Medical. Our little clinic seems to bring out the best in people. It never fails to amaze me though. It never fails to make me smile. I can’t say thank you enough. I know that there are people out there who have helped our people anonymously that I can’t thank personally.

People have said that one person can’t make a difference. I know that that is not true. One person makes a difference every day. The great thing is that it is never just one person. We all make a difference – together.

Thank you. Thank you one and all.


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