When The Benefit Doesn’t Benefit

Posted on April 24, 2019 by under Uncategorized
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We are very fortunate in our area.  We live in communities that rally around those in need, whether it’s because of a house fire that destroys everything, a flood that drives them from their home, or even assisting with medical and funeral expenses.  In all of those circumstances, everyone comes together to help and the end result is often unbelievable and such a blessing to those who benefit from the generosity of neighbors and strangers alike.

But lately we’ve seen a distressing trend and it’s one of which everyone should be mindful.  However, before I discuss said trend, I would like to note that on occasion families cross our threshold uncertain as to how they’re going to manage the financial end of the funeral service.  Generally, the person who has died did so without insurance or sufficient assets to cover that expense, leaving their next of kin in a financial quandary.  And as much as we try to help, and as patient as we try to be, sadly, other than providing free funerals, there isn’t much we can do.  I’ve often said I wish we could have funerals at no charge . . . and we probably could . . . for about a week.  But our employees expect to be paid so they can pay their bills, our suppliers won’t deliver if their invoices aren’t covered, and it would be really hard to have a funeral with no water or electricity in the building.

We work to find less expensive options that still provide the dignity and respect every family deserves; we wait without charge while they explore ways to raise the money needed for the choices they’ve made.  And sometimes, good friends and family members will organize benefits to help with those expenses.  That, my friends, is my point of discussion for today.

Recently, we were made aware of not one but two benefits that people organized for the sole purpose of assisting with funeral expenses for two separate individuals.  The benefits and the families they were designed to help were totally unrelated, held at different times and in very different locations.  I only know by the rumor mill how much was raised, but I can tell you this.  None of it ever made its way to the funeral home.

I do know there were people who worked hard to make these happen, people who donated homemade cakes and sold raffle tickets and went around to businesses asking for donations.  And many of those businesses gladly, freely contributed to the effort . . . because we live in communities that care about their neighbors, communities that will pitch in when someone is down to help them back onto their feet.   And how do I know these things took place?  Because Facebook is a wonderful way to advertise and gather support for events such as this, and because people tell us when they call to see why something hasn’t happened with someone whose funeral expenses they tried to help cover.

I don’t believe for a minute that the organizers of these events didn’t fully intend and make arrangements for the money to be used as designated.  Unfortunately, when the fundraising was over and the day was done, the money was obviously entrusted to someone who should not have been handed that degree of temptation.  And all that hard work, and all those good intentions, were in vain.

I don’t know how you fix things like that, because whenever those funds aren’t given to the family, it implies a level of distrust.  Sometimes that might be a good thing, but more often than not, the families use the money as their neighbors meant for them to.  I would never want you to believe otherwise—and I would never want to discourage the spirit of generosity that thrives in our communities, for without that so many people would suffer.  Perhaps the best course of action is to simply be aware.  Ask questions about how the money will be used and who will be the end recipient.  Make certain you know who’s accountable and who will take care of the distribution.  Whether it’s a house fire or a flood, medical bills or funeral expenses, all the good intentions in the world won’t cover the cost involved.

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