I received a phone call this morning from Fred Hallman, who I haven't spoken to for a long time.
Fred called me to remind me of his attempt to provide a landing area for OS orphans, a site called opensaloon.org. (As far as I know, I was one of three people who joined this site when he first announced it more than a year ago.)
I am in the process of reviewing all the alternatives for a new open salon that have been suggested during the ongoing conversation, so I was interested in the fact that Fred had built this site for our possible use.
And, then, Fred told me that he has been laid up for the past year due to an injury that resulted in reversible paraplegia....but it is only going to be reversed if Fred gets the physical therapy he needs....and his physical therapy sessions were cut off two months ago.
Fred is in a nursing home/rehab facility in Gainsville Florida....and he needs our help to get the physical therapy he needs to get out of that nursing home and back to his life.
Fred is 61, and won't be eligible to file for social security until September, but even if he files then, he will only get the reduced benefits, and still won't be eligible for Medicare until he reaches 65.
Fred isn't asking anyone for any money, and neither am I, but over the past few days I have learned that there are a great many talented, well-informed people on this web site of ours who have the ability to help Fred in ways that I don't.
The first thought that came to mind about Fred's situation was that he should have been on SSI/Disability a year ago. He filed, but he was unable to follow up on his application because he was in a semi-comatose state for several months.
Obviously, Fred needs someone to step in for him, a conservator or an attorney who can help him file for permanent disability so that he can get onto Social Security - while it is still there - and potentially gain access to Medicare benefits.
Fred gave his permission to do what I am doing now, making his situation public to the members of Open Salon.
Over the years, various people have run benefit campaigns for Open Salon members. I've done that myself on one or two occasions.
This is different. Fred doesn't need money except to the extent that we all need money. What he needs is the intercession of a good law firm that specializes in disability cases.
My initial response to Fred's situation was a commitment to personally research the available Medicaid firms in the Gainsville area....but then I thought about all of the very knowledgeable people who frequent this web site and thought it would be next to impossible that there aren't several people on this site who are better informed about these issues than I am (I tried to get on disability several and failed myself) and would be able to help me find the right representation for Fred.
On another level, this is a test of the community-ness of the Open Salon community.
One of the harbingers of a just community is how the community responds to threats to the well being of any of its members.
Fred is a long-standing member of the OS community but even if he were a newbie he would still merit our suport as a member of our so-called community...and that's what I am asking for on his behalf.
Fred hasn' t been on OS much this past year because it is extremely difficult for him to use a computer while lying flat on his back. He mentioned his condition once a year ago....but I don't even recall that.
So the question is this: how can we help Fred get on his feet again?
More specifically, the question is how will you, individually, help Fred get on his feet again, if you have the ability to help us find help for him.
If we can't do this, maybe we should stop calling ourselves a community.