What would you do if the person you loved and relied on most in all the world suddenly died?
Most of us would turn to our support systems -- parents, siblings, church groups, fraternal organizations. But what if you didn't have those sources of support? Then, I think, you would turn to your friends.
Gretel Parker is a talented artist, illustrator and artisan needlefelter who lives in the county of Shropshire in the United Kingdom. She's also my friend. Perhaps she's your friend too. And right now she needs some financial support.
On 21 January, Andy Macauley -- Gretel's sweetheart and life partner of 21 years -- died. The two had just moved to Shropshire and had bought their first house together, a place they christened "Bodge Cottage." Andy died without a will, and it will likely take many months for lawyers to determine what, if anything, is left for his sweetheart. Meanwhile, life does go on and there are still bills to be paid -- funeral expenses, mortgage payments, electric bills, trips to the grocery store, and all the other costs of daily life.
Andy's job helped pay for things, but now he is gone and Gretel's situation is financially precarious. Although Andy's family is dear to her, Gretel has no living parents, no siblings, no one from the usual support system to help her get through this.
But she does have us. We can help her.
As mentioned, Gretel is very talented. She has written and published several books, has been featured in the British craft magazine Mollie Makes, and has held several seminars to teach others the craft of needlefelting. Her blog, "Middle of Nowhere," is a window into everyday life in rural Britain and has helped her meet and befriend many people around the world. I have absolute faith that Gretel will get back on her feet when the time is right, and that she will be able to keep Bodge Cottage. In the short term, she could use some financial assistance.
Any amount you could donate would be welcome -- and if you can't donate, you can still help by spreading the word about the Gretel Parker Project on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Tell your friends and family. Let as many people know as possible. Please, help us to help Gretel.
Q: Who are you?
A: We're a couple of Americans who became friends with Gretel through her blog. One of us is a writer, and the other is an artist and illustrator.
Q: Why did you start this campaign?
A: When a friend is grieving, most of us want to be able to help lighten the burden in some way. We might sit with our friend, attend the funeral, bring food, provide a listening ear, care for pets, run errands, etc. All these things become very difficult to do when you live some 4,600 miles away and are not independently wealthy. But we realized a donation campaign would make it possible for people all over the world to help, no matter how far away they live. And Gretel is an amazing person who has made friends everywhere!
Q: Does Gretel know about the project?
A: We expressly requested her permission before we started this campaign, so yes, she is quite aware.
Q: How much of the money you're collecting will go to Gretel?
A: At the end of the scheduled time period, Indiegogo charges every campaign a percentage of its takings. After that, every last penny will go to Gretel.
Q: How can I verify that this isn't a scam?
A: As horrible as it is to contemplate, there are certain individuals who try to capitalize on tragedy, so we understand your concern. You can look over our websites (Sooz's and Tara's) to verify that we've been online and in contact with Gretel for several years. You may also contact me (Sooz) directly at [jqp at houghtons dot org], and ask me any questions you may have about this campaign. I'd be happy to put your concerns to rest.
Q: May I contact Gretel?
A: Gretel is in mourning right now, and we'd like to respect her privacy as much as possible.
Q: I'm donating in a currency other than the British pound. How can I tell how much I'm spending?
A: Before you donate, you might want to visit the Universal Currency Converter to get a better estimate of the daily exchange rate between your local currency and the British pound.
Q: I can't donate to the campaign. Are there any other ways available to help Gretel?
A: Yes! You can write about The Gretel Parker Project in social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. -- it really helps to spread the word. (Thank you so much to those who have done so!) You could also buy items from Gretel's Etsy store when it reopens. You could buy her books from Amazon UK. You could choose to donate to Funds for Gretel, another Indiegogo campaign being held in Gretel's behalf. If you're very quick, you could sign up for the single remaining slot in her upcoming needlefelting workshop. And of course, if you're so inclined, you could pray for her comfort and well-being. As we think of or come across other ways to assist Gretel, we'll put them here.
Q: Isn't £25,000 a lot of money to raise in just 40 days?
A: It's an ambitious goal, but we think it's achievable. The response to this campaign has been immediate, generous and very touching (many thanks!), and we believe we can reach the £25,000 mark within 40 days if we get the word out to enough people. So please, spread the word!