Help Melissa get back on her Feet!

This is Melissa, she is the mother of two awesome kids, my best friend of 22 years, a seasoned photographer and an Alameda businesswoman. You may know her as the founder and crafter behind the herbal & bath and body products previously sold at Feathered Outlaw, where she created a litany of self care and homeopathic treats. However you know her, you know she would give you the jacket off her back or her last dollar. Melissa has always been the one to help in a crisis, and quite honestly, be top 3 left standing in the zombie apocalypse (she’d be maimed for sure, but standing nonetheless). She’s a fighter and she’s scrappy. As some of you may know, the past few years have been rough for our girl. She has been struggling to care for herself and two children.

With 2020 being the dumpster fire year that it is, it’s almost, almost laughable how things got worse for Melissa. However, she persisted. After her separation from the business she helped create, she made her products at home (which she shares with my family) amongst the ongoing chaos. Melissa put as many hours as possible into her longstanding part time admin job, but due to Covid and having two kids in remote learning, she eventually had to stop. It is just not possible
to be in two places at one time. Eventually she was able to modify her position to work remotely, and for a moment, things seemed ok.

Then Melissa started to feel pain in her shoulder and neck. Then shooting nerve pain down her arms, eventually affecting her legs. She lost sensation in some of her toes, and  finally dropped a coffee mug because she lost feeling in her hand, making her lose her grip. This was when she called the doctors. Based on the MRI, the pain is caused by the loss of disc space in her cervical spine, putting significant pressure on her spinal cord. Her condition has gotten exponentially worse
over the last few months, and anyone who’s dealt with chronic pain knows how hard, even the littlest things can be when you feel like your body is on fire. It’s an understatement to say 2020 has been a hard year, for so many people struggling it’s hard to ask others for help, but here we are, humbled yet still hopeful everything will work out in the end. Being her best friend and her roommate for the last year, I have seen her help countless people and I have seen her grow and smile for everyone she has helped. She always says it feeds her soul when she can help someone. And now she needs our help.

Melissa is scheduled for cervical spinal surgery on December 31st; her situation is considered a “medical emergency”, meaning that she has an increased risk of paralysis or even death if she were to fall or get into an accident. And y’all know our girl is clumsy as hell (you may remember, she broke her toe in September due to an altercation with a spider; she lost). On top of that, she has to move (my family is moving to Portland due to my in-laws health). Her pain level has made working extremely difficult and even her ability to manage two kids in remote learning has become impossible. 

Because she is in so much pain (even her raucous cackle has caused shooting pain down her side!) she can’t physically do all the things that a parent has to do and currently her kids are living full-time with their dad. Not having her kids around has its own set of complications and emotional pain. After the surgery Melissa plans to recuperate at her mother’s house. This is her only option as she does not have the money to get her own place and she will need constant care after surgery. Not to mention that recovery means not having the ability to earn an income.

So this is where we are now and this is where she needs your help. If you can afford to throw a little cash her way, please do! Or if you could share this message with any number of the people Melissa has made connections with over the years (hell, decades), that she’s been around, also greatly appreciated! All of this, especially this GoFundMe, is extremely hard for her because as she has acknowledged she is the absolute WORST at asking for, and much less accepting, help from others. In her own words she is "much better at giving than receiving" and this year has humbled her in ways that she cannot fully express. Here are ways you can help Melissa, any of which would be extraordinarily helpful and likely make her ugly cry with happiness and love:

- Monetary: anything you can give will be incredibly helpful and go towards her immediate needs & finding housing after her surgery

- Physical assistance: as she has to move before her surgery & cannot lift more than 5lbs, she needs any help with packing and moving her and her kid’s belongings into a storage unit. With the pandemic and a new shelter in place still actively happening, this is a very tricky request, we need to ensure (for everyone's safety) that proper distancing and care is being taken by anyone who offers help.

- Buy her amazing products! She has candles infused with essential oils and precious stones, bath & body products—soaps and salt/sugar scrubs—even raw ingredients! This woman has everything you need to make your own products and she would happily answer any questions on how to do that, she just doesn’t have the physical or mental energy to put out a sale or even rebrand her line of products. She can create a quick menu and inventory of what’s available for anyone interested.

Even with the loss of income due to her physical maladies, she doesn’t qualify for much state assistance since legally she is still married and her ex’s income is counted. Even though she moved out 3 years ago. Long story short, Melissa needs our help, desperately. We are out of options and running out of time.

As a thank you for donating in any way, we will send/deliver her uniquely, whimsical candle aptly named  "the 2020" which are essential oil infused candles made with the intention of helping with the struggles we all have faced, sardonically labeled with some true "this f*cking year" vibes. We all need a little light this year, and reminders that it's always darkest before the dawn. Light one of these when it feels like you really need a little instant light. They were made with love, intention & just enough lightheartedness to hopefully inspire when it's needed most.

And lastly, I add this note from Melissa:

“Love to you all. If you know me, you get how difficult and out of character this huge ask is. I also whole heartedly understand that asking for things at a time when most people have little to give is a BIG ask, and one that many can't give toward. With all my love and understanding, I can tell you I feel you, and if you have only good thoughts & love to send my way, believe me, it's enough, and appreciated more than I can tell you. I appreciate you taking the time to even
read this!"

We thank you for anything you can do to help our girl! Wishing you all health, happiness & safety through the holidays & 2021.

- Erin 

P.S. With her consent, we decided to post this all under her name, so there is no question that all funds are going explicitly to her & to make it easier for her to access them, as once we move, our hands will full as well.


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Melissa Rivers
Alameda, CA

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