Rex's Rebuilding and Recovery Fund

Hi there, my name's Rex and things have been pretty dang hard for me in the last year to the point that I'm finally being forced to swallow my pride and ask for a little bit of help. 

Everything started September 2017 when I moved to Portland to pursue my bachelor's degree in Health Sciences at Portland State University with the intent to apply to a graduate Physician Assistant program after completing my degree. I have extensive experience in the 3rd wave coffee industry, but on multiple occasions, after being told that my resume was perfect and interviews were just a formality, I would then be turned down for a job because I "didn't fit the 'Portland Coffee Aesthetic.'" I'm 6'5" and muscular. My physical appearance, in addition to being enrolled in school and having a limited availability to work caused people to deny me employment and, on many occasions and with different businesses, I was told this exact thing. I just didn't fit what they were looking for in a "Portland Barista."

This, combined with a series of misfortunes, interviews, and being enrolled in school led to not being able to find a job in Portland, whether in the coffee industry or otherwise for almost 6 months, during which I watched my savings and financial aid dwindle away into nothingness. During this time, my family supported and helped me during the hardest times, giving me what financial support they could while also helping me to pay for school, insurance, rent, and living expenses when my reserves had dried up and I had nothing left. 

Here's where things start to get dicey. There's two halves of the story.

The first is the medical half.

During this time, in November of 2017 I also ended up tearing my left calf muscle vertically in half. Specifically and in medical terms, I had a partial rupture of my left medial gastrocnemius, a partial rupture of my left anterior tibialis, and partial ruptures of both my left medial gastrocnemius and left anterior tibialis tendons. Two emergency room visits (one for the initial injury and one two weeks later for a hematoma(blood clot) scare), an MRI, an Ultrasound, multiple clinic visits, and a stint in physical therapy later and I'd amassed about $2500 dollars of medical bills after insurance. 

Not only did the injury cost a literal and figurative leg and a half, but it also severely affected my job search and prospects. The coffee industry is a very mobile, on-your-feet, and fast-paced industry and it really requires you to be able to stand in a cafe and not be limited by crutches and mobility issues, in addition to the hazards of being on crutches in a wet-floored environment. During my 3 month recovery to the point that I could walk with the best modicum of normalcy, my income-earning potential was severely limited by my injury.

This is only half of the medical story as well. For as long as I've been an adolescent and an adult, I also have been battling what is known as "hypogonadism." In layman's terms, I produce an incredibly low amount of testosterone naturally; about 1/10 of the average male. 

Obviously this can cause a massive number of various negative effects, from tearing muscles (like my calf injury and a multitude of past injuries as well), psychological issues, impaired recovery from injury and strain, fatigue, intolerance to heat, muscle and joint weakness, depression, impairment of my bodybuilding aspirations, and a whole slew of other issues.  

During this time, because of my injury but also because of the long-standing chronic issue of hypogonadism, I also was directed to get an MRI to check if my pituitary gland in my brain was intact and if that was one of the reasons why I don't produce any testosterone. If they could treat that, maybe the other issues, my propensity for injuries like my calf and others in the past, and my impaired recovery from those injuries would all be addressed and positively affected. 

Seeing the endocrinologist and getting that MRI, though, stacked another $1000 to my medical situation after insurance for a running total of $3500.

Then comes the other half of the situation. The school, living expenses, job, life, and misfortune half. 

Put simply, for the first year of school after moving to Portland I took 6 credits per term at out-of-state tuition. Financial aid and FAFSA definitely helped this cost, but I did have to take out close to $12,000 in student loans to cover what the PELL Grant couldn't. That's pretty cut and dry. While I'm still enrolled in school, I won't need to go into repayment just yet. The plus side as of September of 2018 is that I am now a resident of Oregon and I can keep my insurance through school, though I do have to stay at a reduced, 6-credit load per term of school in order to continue pursuing my degree. 

HOWEVER, also as of September of 2018 , I am no longer eligible to receive federal financial student aid because, in my university career, I have exceeded the 270 credit limit and no longer qualify because of that. Though I have appealed this, it is still being processed and I don't know if my federal financial aid through the FAFSA will be reinstated until that appeal gets processed. 

Also, as of the summer of 2018, my family is no longer able to help me financially and they've backed out. My situation has exceeded their means and, for their own preservation of well-being, they simply can't afford to help me anymore so my one source of financial support during these hard times has been forced to rescind their help. I don't fault them for it, but they didn't give me any sort of warning before the start of the new school term at the end of September 2018. 

Lastly, I have myself and my dog, Aura to feed and take care of on a daily basis with basic necessities. It's common things: rent, groceries, medicine, internet (necessary for school), car payment, phone bills, insurance, tuition (on a payment plan), water, power bills. These things all monitarily add up, and I've been paying for them with a credit card, which only increases the debt further and further. 

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There is good news, however!

As of September 2018 I also now have a full-time job and a second, part-time job and I have been working at them now for two weeks. Things are going great, and, though it's hard to balance life, school, and two jobs, and sometimes I have 16 hour days with no breaks aside from the travel time between them, I am now earning wages, and have been able to retain my health insurance through school which, for my continuing medical issues including the recovery of my calf and addressing my hypogonadism, is a massive boon. 

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What it all boils down to and what I'm asking for help with is this:

I need some help to get back on my feet. I'm working incredibly hard, up to 60 hours/week to pull myself out of the hole of debt that I've found myself in. I now have to do everything on my own to cover everything, in addition to the debt I've built for 9 months of being unemployed. To not let the debt from my medical bills, my living expenses, and un-aided school build up, I'm asking for help with two months of living expenses to help me get back on my feet. I will use the money to cover rent, to cover some of the medical debt, and to cover living expenses like groceries and dog food, while I also use my two jobs to help build up my savings again and get me back "in the black" so that I'm not living off of credit cards and I'm able to get my situation back under my control. I'm asking for the benevolence of others to give me the grace to work, pull myself out of the hole I'm in, and start filling it in so that I can continue to recover, grow, be healthy, have a positive sense of well-being, feel safe, and pursue my goals and aspirations academically. I'm no stranger to hard work. I welcome it. I want to work hard to pull myself out of this hole. 

I would be so incredibly grateful to anyone who could help me to achieve the goal of being financially stable and to not have to worry about if I will be able to feed myself or my dog tomorrow. I would be massively grateful to not have to worry if I will be stable and healthy enough to continue putting in the work that I want to to succeed. 

Thank you so much for your consideration, generosity, and time. Thank you for listening to my story.
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Organizer

Rex Bennett 
Organizer
Portland, OR
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