Although he is extremely ill, Russ is very concerned about his students, especially the high school juniors and seniors...several of whom are relying on him to help them obtain a music/vocal scholarship to attend college. If Russ could no longer be a voice teacher, he would not only lose the job he loves above all others, he would also lose his livelihood. His favorite stories are not about any of his achievements (though he does enjoy telling those), but about those students for whom he was instrumental in obtaining either a vocal scholarship, or entry to the college of their dreams with a top-rated vocal program, or entry to an operatic organization of their choice, etc. These successes keep him alive and moving forward.
Unfortunately, due to his medical issues, Russ has been unable to maintain his home and keep up with his day-to-day bills. An eviction notice was received the week of 23 October. If we cannot pay his rent this week (by 3 November), Russ will have no home to return to after his surgery and rehabilitation...he will be homeless.
In addition, Russ has outstanding utility bills and medical bills which need to be paid. He is overwhelmed thinking about all of these commitments when what he really needs to do is focus on his health and recovery.
Our immediate goal, by this Friday (November 3rd if at all possible) is to raise enough money ($3,000 including a late fee for October) to cover Russ's rent due by 1 November. Another late fee will attach if not paid by 5 November.
Our longer-term goal is to raise enough money to cover Russ's rent and utility bills for six months - about $30,000. Was that a collective "wow" just heard??? Yes, $30K is a serious amount of money reflecting the gravity of the situation. Hopefully, this amount will allow Russ enough time to recover and get back to work full time. Any additional money raised will go to cover medical expenses.
Please give whatever you can. Every dollar will truly help Russ get back on his feet literally and figuratively. He has always been so generous with his students of all ages over the years: letting them live there rent-free while they save money for their schooling, giving them his car when he received another one, attending student recital(s) and stage performances whenever he could to show his support, organizing opportunities for his students to get experience performing in front of an audience, etc. The list goes on and on. It seems only fitting that we give back to a man and teacher who has always given his all to us, for us.
We will also be putting out a message requesting help in cleaning Russ's home and getting it organized for his return. As you can imagine, after months of not being able to stand for any length of time, his home is in dire need of help as well. Since many hands make light work, we are hopeful that we'll see a tremendous response to this call for help so that we can get things squared away quickly...and maybe have some fun in the process!
It would be deeply appreciated if you would all share this page on your Facebook page and with your email contacts in order to get as big a response as possible to help Russ out...especially in the near term (by Friday) for the $3K we could use to pay Russ's November rent and the penalty assessed for the October late payment.
Thank you again!
Marcia O'Brien and Kim Brown (friends)
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