DAVID BARBEE - - CANCER & EVICTION

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Anyone who has worked at People magazine in the last 10 years knows David Barbee. A lot of people at the other Time Inc. magazines, and throughout the Time & Life Bldg. in NYC, know him too. I daresay that David has been the best known, best liked, and most helpful person in the entire Time & Life Building in recent years. If you needed anything obscure or hard to find, David was your man...he always knew where to go and who to ask. If you needed help with any kind of project, he was your man. Even when his job description was changed to 100% of his time photocopying magazine articles, he continued helping people with their needs and projects on his own time. Many people did not know that he was often not being paid.

David, who is 44, was born totally blind, with glaucoma and cataracts. At age 2, the cataracts were removed, and since then he has been legally blind. He will always have glaucoma, which has to be closely monitored. His father died of cancer when David was 3. He had a great Mom, who made him work harder than the other kids, in order to keep up with the other kids. His Mom was shot and killed when he was 13. His grandmother took over; she died when he was 15. His sisters and aunts finished raising him.

We at People first met him when he worked for the mail delivery company. Despite his limited vision, he delivered our mail more accurately than it ever had been, and he was so darned nice as well, so we all liked him a lot. He used to say that his dream was to one day work for People, and when he was laid off by the mail company, my boss Jeannie Park and I found a way to hire him in the People Research Dept. He thrived, and his job quickly went from temp/part-time to permanent/full-time with benefits. (Note: Both Jeannie Park and I have since left People).

David was laid off from his job at People last May. In July he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, metastasized to his liver, and underwent rigorous chemotherapy through Nov. On Dec 22 he had surgery to remove the cancerous part of his liver. On Jan 23 he had 11-hour surgery to remove the tumors in his colon, and got the great news that right now he is cancer-free. In a few weeks he will have more surgery, to reconnect everything once it's healed. Over the coming months he will be monitored closely and likely be given preventative chemo. He has been amazingly upbeat throughout this entire ordeal. In fact since he first got the cancer news, the only times he has been down and discouraged are described in the next paragraph. 

Now, the day after coming home from the hosptal after getting the best news in months, he has received the very bad news that he has 30 days to leave his apartment and find another place to live...in the middle of winter, when he cannot lift anything; nor does he have the first & last month's rent plus security deposit to rent another apartment.

For months he has been making seemingly endless phone calls with the insurance company and in-person visits to various government and other agencies. It has been a convoluted and often incomprehensible mess. He got a severance paycheck and health insurance from Time Inc. for 4 months after he was laid off, through Sept (health insurance ended then for his partner and his 3 teenaged kids as well). He has had zero income since then. By new NY State law he could not collect unemployment until his severance pay ended, but by then he had applied for Social Security, and unemployment would have interfered with that, so he could not apply for it. He was approved for Social Security 2 months ago, but has yet to see a penny, and has been told again and again that it’s “in process”...in a dept. that cannot be spoken with. Hopefully it will begin in February.

Insurance has been a nightmare. His treatments in July were covered by his company health insurance, but in August they began to refuse to pay, insisting that he wasn’t covered because he was no longer employed, although his severance package included insurance until Sept. 30. On one particularly bad day the insurance company refused to cover a chemo treatment just before it was to begin; he was told he could put the $8000 on a credit or debit card. Fortunately his doctors at Vasser Medical Center in Poughkeepsie somehow made the chemo treatment happen. The Time Inc. benefits people ultimately appointed an advocate to try to straighten out the situation for him, and they did…mostly. The insurance company did begin to cover him again, but continue to say that he was not covered for August. He is still getting bills for about $9000 that have been declined by the insurance company. Some of this will hopefully eventually be erased if and when his coverage for August is finally straightened out; some of it is almost certainly his co-pay that he is actually responsible for. He is now finally covered by Medicare, which so far appears to be working well.

David’s partner works full-time, which has enabled them to pay whatever is most important each week: car payment, keeping the lights on, keeping the phone on, food. Now, they have received an eviction notice and must move somewhere by the end of Feb (really too bad, because their apt. in Poughkeepsie is just 2 blocks from David’s doctors and hospital, so he could walk to his appointments and treatments). They have also fallen behind in car payments, and have late notices on utilities.

David wants very much to work, and should be able to in the not-too-distant future. In the fall he was offered (through a former colleague at People) a full-time job at a printing company in Manhattan, but he couldn’t work full-time, especially so far from his chemo. Even though he will be receiving Social Security until he can work, and will eventually be employed again, and in either case his and his partner’s combined income will be enough for them to live on going forward, the bills are now so far behind that it will be impossible to catch up.  Their landlord is unmoveable regarding the eviction, as he sees the impossibility of their catching up, given the circumstances as they are right now. 

Hopefully through GoFundMe David can be helped to catch up so that he can come out of this cancer battle with a fresh start and move forward unencumbered by impossible debt. Whether you are a friend or colleague who has worked with him and appreciate who he is and what he has done for you, or you would just like to help a really good guy who is in an extremely tough spot through no fault of his own, any contribution will be so much appreciated.

If you want to contact David: [email redacted]

(Please note that David did not ask me to do this, though I did persuade him to let me try it, and I got him to provide me with his picture.)

Thanks,
Robert Britton

Donations

  • Danielle Cruz 
    • $50 
    • 57 mos
  • joy scheller 
    • $25 
    • 57 mos
  • Jeanhee Kim 
    • $50 
    • 57 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 58 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 59 mos
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Organizer

Robert Britton 
Organizer
Jackson Heights, NY
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