This campaign is to help alleviate the weight of medical bills after the death of Mike Richter's mother as well as save the home of himself & his two disabled brothers.
My friend Michael Richter is one of the kindest, most loyal people I have ever known. I have seen him be there for individuals he can’t even afford to help, simply because its the right thing to do. I’ve seen him slave away in retail (a job he's had for over 25 years), so he could support his entire family – disabled mother Linda and 3 brothers, two of whom are so physically disabled they are unable to work and require constant medication and access to aid programs.
When Mike’s father left his mother (and the family), penniless in a bitter and petty divorce many, many years ago, Mike and his mother discovered the man hadn’t been paying the bills for almost a year and they were about to lose even the roof over their head. Mike stepped up, and put all the outstanding debts on his credit cards putting him into a state of financial ruin that crippled his credit rating and fiscal mobility for the following 10 years. If life wasn’t hard enough, in 2008, Mike discovered he had Type-2 diabetes and nearly died due to putting off going to the doctor when he felt unwell because he couldn’t afford to take the sick days. The day Mike finally went to the doctor, he was sent immediately to the ER, and was out of work for nearly 3 months before his body stabilized.
I’ve watched Mike put everyone’s needs and happiness before his own including that of his friends, and even coworkers. When I once needed a ride out of a tricky situation at 2AM, Mike was the only one I could call who showed up, no questions asked, to get me home safe and sound.
Now, Mike needs me (and all of his friends) – and more than any of us could ever do alone.
This past September, Mike’s already disabled mother Linda began having breathing issues. He began to believe it was heart related but she was stubborn about seeing a doctor. In December, her legs began swelling and Mike recognized this as being a circulation issue. With money being far too tight, and the fear of massive medical bills over what Linda thought “was nothing,” she still refused to be seen by a doctor. On January 23rd, she fell. When the paramedics arrived, it was determined that she’d had a heart attack at some point in the past. Improper blood flow had caused the swelling in her legs, and her heart and lungs were filling with water. The only person who could stay with Linda in the hospital 24/7 as doctors ran test after test, and performed multiple procedures, was Mike. He used up all his personal, sick, and vacation days to be with her and when those had run out, he’d work a full shift, only to come to the hospital and spend the night at her side while simultaneously fielding calls from his disabled brothers at home who at many points could not mentally process what was actually happening – that their mother was dying.
A picture of Mike's mother Linda taken on her favorite holiday, Christmas.
After an unproductive stint at a rehab facility the doctor’s thought would be helpful, she forgot how to use her cell phone. At this point she was back at home, discharged largely because Medicare wouldn’t cover expenses any longer, with a slew of medical equipment, much of which had to be purchased at Mike’s expense. Home not even a full 24 hours, she complained a bit about being hot, and not being able to find a ring she cherished. Mike made sure she was comfortable and had the ring she was looking for. Not even an hour later, Linda had passed away in her sleep.
For 25 years, Mike took care of his disabled mother, severely diabetic brother with an undiagnosed mental illness, as well as another brother who is so physically disabled he can’t lift more than 20 pounds and is going blind. His mother’s life was spent fighting for every food stamp, social program, and charity she could find for her family while Mike’s was an endless routine of making sure he could fill in the gaps with a retail employee’s Assistant Manager (and later Manager) paycheck. Her death had immediate ripple effects into the family as Mike scrambled to both keep his job, and get on top of every government program that was now being discontinued upon the event of her death.
His youngest brother now needs a cornea replacement surgery to have any chance of not going fully blind. At the same time, his brother’s psychiatrist of 15 years no longer was covered by their insurance, and Mike had to scramble to find a new doctor so there was no interruption in medication. In the meantime, Mike had to pay for expensive medications out of pocket.
I have watched my friend Mike shoulder a lot in his life – more than a person should have to. He has spent his entire life taking care of someone, even back to when he was 13 and home caring for his grandmother with dementia in her old age. However, now he is struggling to stay afloat. Without his mother, they have lost access to disability checks, food stamps, and other programs that were helping fill out the difference between Mike’s paycheck and the house bills. Mike, who already lives at his job – as any retail manager can attest to – is considering finding a night job so he can make even just a few dollars more to support his family. He has tried and failed to be approved for more food stamp allowances. He has tried to apply for home aid under Section 8 housing here in New Jersey for his brothers but hasn’t been successful. Mike had his District Manager personally write a referral for a corporate assistance program for struggling families within the company Mike works for, and received only $5,000 dollars towards his overwhelming expenses. The money he needs to save his home simply doesn’t exist – and the worst part is that it’s mostly because he can’t get out from under the debt he incurred to save the home in the first place. Mike has already explored refinancing, however because the mortgage has already been modified to be as low as possible, it can’t be negotiated any lower. Conversely, their monthly payments are already lower than any rent that would accommodate his family in the tri-state area and Mike can’t leave his job or uproot his brothers from their doctors.
Having done the math, if we could raise the money we need to cover that remaining debt, it would free up potentially more than $600/month, allowing him to survive and support his family & medical bills. I have watched Mike lose a massive amount of weight, skip numerous meals, and forget to check his blood/sugar during this process. He isn’t sleeping, and the stress levels are dangerous for anyone, let alone someone who is diabetic and needs regular insulin shots. Most recently he had a sudden onset of Bell’s Palsy which has left half his face and mouth partially paralyzed for an unknown duration of time.
A sudden onset of Bell's Palsy has not made life easier & required an ER visit.
While Bell’s Palsy can be caused by many things, in this case doctors agree it is almost entirely due to stress and his body simply breaking down in protest. It can take up to six months for this condition to pass.
Mike has been beaten down from every angle. Mentally, financially, and emotionally. Funeral costs for his mother were $10,000 and that was for almost nothing except the cheapest coffin and a place in the ground to put her. He couldn’t honor her last requests to be put in a mausoleum, and she still doesn’t have a headstone because he simply can’t afford one. He sees it as a personal failure that he wasn’t able to do at least that much for the woman who raised him.
A placquard & a straw cross is Linda's only current grave marker.
All Mike has ever done is help people, be it the ones closest to him or even acquaintances who needed someone to listen. He’s been there for people who were suicidal, he’s become a fixture in the retail job he works, and has left a lasting impression on every regular customer he’s ever had. I had the honor of working with him for several years of my life. He is a person you find yourself telling your life story to over lunch, even if you’ve never told it before. It’s only a few days later when you realize he sneakily paid for that lunch with money he didn’t have, because he didn’t want to interrupt you talking or simply thought it was the right thing to do as a friend.
Mike isn’t writing this GoFundMe summary because he literally has no time. Between his home life, and his work life, all he can send me are the bullet points. He is also incredibly stubborn and always believes he can find a way to fix things on his own. Not this time. When I suggested we put this fundraiser together, he finally agreed. This family needs your help, and we would be honored by any amount you see fit to put towards the total we’re aiming for. The amount we’re aiming for isn’t to make their life one of the rich and famous.
The main goal is to relieve Mike of the house debt which is crushing them down with about $20,000. If this debt can be eliminated, as stated earlier, it would free up at least $600 per month. If we can exceed this goal it will go towards the myriad of medical expenses that have been incurred as a result of Mike’s mother’s passing and now his brother’s ongoing and increasing medical needs. Combined with his two brother’s disability checks and food stamps this would be enough to survive on, although they will likely still need to rent out a bedroom if medical expenses keep increasing.
The need is immediate, and no matter what can be contributed towards this objective, it will be more than anything Mike and his family can do now.
Mike will never stop working towards supporting his family, but he doesn’t have to be in it alone. The money you donate goes directly to him, the only involvement I have is in creating this summary and taking at least one task off his overflowing plate. Please help me be the kind of friend to Michael Richter that he has been to me, and everyone else he’s ever known.
Erika Haase &
This guy has been a hero for so many people. I hope HE can find a hero out here amongst all of you. Thank you all for anything you can do.