A Promise To Pay It Forward

Hi, I'm Kelli. Thank you for taking a moment to read my story. Many of you reading this know parts of it already, so I'll just begin with the basics and I'll share more details below.

My promise to pay it forward
First, I want to explain that every donation I receive here will be repaid, once I return to work, in the form of a donation to the American Red Cross. 

My story and request for help
I've desperately needed financial help for awhile now, but haven't known who to ask or how. Due to a chronic dizziness condition, I've been on extended disability from work for over 3 years. This provides limited income and I am unable to earn anything more than that set amount.

In addition to catching up with overwhelming life expenses, in recent weeks my grandfather's health has declined and I don't have the financial resources needed to get to California to see him and to help him during a time of great need.
● My top priority is to make the trip to visit my Gpa John. His condition is serious, so this need is particularly urgent. I hope to get out to California to see him and help my family with his care as soon as possible.● As for my other needs, I am struggling to keep up with supporting myself (and my sweet cat Petunia) on a fixed, low income. It has become increasingly difficult as I've had to extend my time on disability. I never expected my recovery, nor my time away from work to last this long. However, I'm SO happy to say that my current treatment works and I am steadily recovering, but it does take great perseverance. Because of my perseverance, I expect to be ready to work again within months. And then, as soon as I regain a reasonable living income I will pay your donations forward to the Red Cross as promised.

In order to keep my progress as steady as possible, staying on track financially is crucial. Stresses about paying bills on time, being able to handle unexpected costs, tear my focus away from my health. But I am currently paying 2015 expenses on a fixed, small percentage of my 2007 income, and ends are just not meeting (more on that math below if you're curious).
So, here I am, finally sucking it up and admitting that I need help. I don't feel comfortable asking for gifts and due to my income status it is impossible to get a loan, so after much consideration I came up with this "pay it forward" idea. 

Now here's where I sound like I'm channeling Sally Struthers, but this is VERY true - ANY amount you can contribute is welcomed, appreciated and put to good use. I'm trying to catch up on overdue bills, unexpected expenses, and a large disparity between my 2007 income and our 2015 economy. Every dollar is an extra breath I can take to help me better focus on a very near future when I can finally support myself once again.

If you've gotten this far, thank you SO much for taking the time to read my request. Whether you are able to donate or not, I want you to know that I am incredibly grateful to have a sensitive and caring group of people in my world with whom I can feel comfortable sharing such a personal and unique request.

Now as promised, if you'd like to continue reading, I've included a little Q&A about some of the topics I touched on above. If you have any further questions, or need to connect with me more directly for any reason, please feel free to contact me.

Why are you on disability?
I have a chronic dizziness condition that began in 2007. It is called "disembarkment syndrome" or Mal de Debarquement if you're feeling more fancy. It is a rare and curious dizziness condition, with no clear, known cure. It started as the result of a video shoot on a boat in 2007. My symptoms are very much visually triggered, which made video editing particularly difficult. That is among the reasons I eventually had to stop working in 2011. My symptoms are now controlled by medication and a treatment that has been working very well so far. You can learn more about the condition at www.mddsfoundation.org .

Why do you refer to 2007 income?
Based on workers compensation law, when on disability a person is paid a percentage of the income from the date of injury. For me, that was August 2007. That amount remains constant and I receive a weekly check by mail.

After 3+ years, why are you facing financial difficulties now?
My financial situation has been a struggle from the beginning. But I started off with a little bit of savings, and fewer expenses. Not only do things just cost more due to the cost of living increases we all face, in the time since August 2011, I lost my health insurance; until 2014 was denied any health insurance; that lead to major medical bills from a broken ankle and injuries from a car wreck in 2012; then suddenly I took on a car payment because my old (paid-off) car was totaled. Add to that the other unexpected extra expenses that pop up in anyone's life (I just paid $200 for a doctor visit & prescriptions for an ear infection/bronchitis), and $510/week goes away very fast.

Why have you chosen the Red Cross as the donation recipient?
I have recently been given a fantastic opportunity to volunteer with the Kansas City chapter of the Red Cross, where I am able to reintegrate into a work environment and rebuild many of my skills that have gotten a bit rusty. I am learning more every day about what amazing work the organization does for people in need, and I also have a rich family history with the Red Cross. In fact, I would not be here today without them!

You wouldn't be alive without the Red Cross? What's that all about?
My mom's father was wounded in WWII - shot in France on D-Day. His canteen was destroyed and he was desperate for water (let alone medical attention) and a Red Cross crew arrived just in time. He always credited the organization for saving his life. When I shared this story with a good friend as I began my volunteer endeavor, she pointed out something I had not previously considered...if they hadn't saved my Gramps' life, then I wouldn't be alive either, if not for the help of the Red Cross.

Is there more to this Red Cross connection?
Why, yes there is! I'm glad you asked.
After he recovered, my grandfather then dedicated his career to working for the organization that saved him. He was a journalist before the war, and used his skills to become Director of Public Affairs for the Western Pacific region of the American Red Cross. He passed away when I was only 14, so he wasn't around to see my career in journalism or so many other ways I've followed in his footsteps. But as I'm now working on such a similar mission in my volunteer role, I've felt him with me in every step of the way.
I think that sums it all up. Have I missed anything? Left out important details? If you have any other questions for me, or even if you just want to say "hi", please don't hesitate to reach out with a message.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you so very much for visiting this page. If you can't help, but know someone who might want to, please share the link as you wish.


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Kelli Stroud 
Olathe, KS
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