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Old 07-29-2008, 12:21 PM   #21
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We've been learning that donating the money gives us more value than donating our time. Maybe someday that'll change.
Not to debate or reduce the value in what you are doing (bless you for that). However, if you get the chance to directly contribute to a cause (such as being a worker handing out food at a food bank) you will find that you will "connect" with those that you are assisting. As a person (along with my wife) who contribute, we feel that what we are doing is important, it's the times that you are able to "participate in the process" (as in when I do when I deliver a meal) in where you actually see what you are doing, makes it all worthwhile.

Contributions = monologue
Volunteer = dialogue

It does make a difference (try it - let me know if you do )...

- Ron
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:27 PM   #22
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Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish ...
Sometimes, a man neither has a pole, line, hook, or bait.

Not to say that you should not "assist and teach" those that appear to need help, but sometimes you have to realize that not everybody can just make it on their own.

- Ron
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:47 PM   #23
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I've heard that complaint from Habitat For Humanity volunteers-- when the "sweat equity" family rolls up to the home site in an expensive SUV.
I saw that firsthand as a volunteer on a build........ All of us volunteers went back to our modest cars and drove away, and the family we helped got into an Escalade with chrome spinners and DVD players built into the headrests of the front seats, and rumbled off...........
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:58 PM   #24
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Where I w*rked last, we gave two days off to anyone wanting to work on the Habitat for humanity project. After the first day of work they all came back.
All the ones being "helped" congregated on a neighbor's porch sucking beer, with their feet up on the railing, in the shade while our guys sweated in the August heat, working.

No one ever volunteered again.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:12 PM   #25
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Looks like a good alternative for those who like to work with their hands but who may be disenchanted with Habitat for Humanity.

http://www.rebuildingtogether.org

Lots of rehab work (some small projects, some big, done as a group) for folks who need it. A single day spent fixing up a old timer's bathroom so that everything works can change a life just as surely as building an entire home. Plus, there's a lot of perfectly good housing stock that just needs a little attention--seems a good fit for green sensibilities and LBYM types.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:28 PM   #26
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Where I w*rked last, we gave two days off to anyone wanting to work on the Habitat for humanity project. After the first day of work they all came back.
All the ones being "helped" congregated on a neighbor's porch sucking beer, with their feet up on the railing, in the shade while our guys sweated in the August heat, working.

No one ever volunteered again.
That is very discouraging. Did you make your "concerns" known to the coordinators of the project (just wondering)?

- Ron
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:32 PM   #27
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Lots of rehab work (some small projects, some big, done as a group) for folks who need it. A single day spent fixing up a old timer's bathroom so that everything works can change a life just as surely as building an entire home.
Sounds like a good "one-on-one" opportunity. It's unfortunate to hear about the other folks that have been with habitat for humanity and have had bad "experiences".

Growing up with little, I know what a little "help" can mean. I would hate to see that an entire volunteer opportunity be "wasted" because of recipients that did not appreciate what is being done (what's that about "human nature" )...

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Old 07-29-2008, 01:34 PM   #28
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wow.. I'm surprised to hear all these bad H4H stories pop up.

samclem, that looks like a great link. My mom is not financially needy, but is definitely prone to putting off needed repairs. I can't imagine the number of older folks who could stay longer and more comfortably in their homes if certain modifications could be made. (The issue might be getting the old coots to agree to it; many will "make do" to avoid disruption.)
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:39 PM   #29
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I worked for H4H and can confirm these stories. Very depressing. A few families were great, most were "gaming the system". Made me more of a cynic than I was before I started.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:41 PM   #30
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My mom is not financially needy, but is definitely prone to putting off needed repairs.
I understand that you live in Europe. Since I worked there (based in the US, but "over there" every 4-6 weeks for a period of 10 years before I retired), I know that the "social structure" is different.

If your mother lives in the US, I understand. However, if she (or any other relatives) live in Europe, I would be interested in hearing about their "elderly adventures" in housekeeping.

- Ron
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:35 PM   #31
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Extreme makeover

I don't know why the show has to give away such monster homes. I guess for the tv appeal, but I rarely watch the show because of this. I'm all for helping out people who have had a tough time, but most of these homes are over the top.
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:43 PM   #32
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I think the house that was to be auctioned off is the largest, most ambitious project the show ever did. Just their luck to get a family that was clueless financially (to give them the benefit of the doubt) about how to handle the gift. Sounds like the family was given plenty of resources to help them make it.

Loved how the Washington Post article says:

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You could (and will) say the Harpers had it coming, but really, we all had this coming.
Really, we all had this coming??
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:51 PM   #33
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That is very discouraging. Did you make your "concerns" known to the coordinators of the project (just wondering)?

- Ron
Yep, the 21 sweaty guys so did as well.
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Old 07-29-2008, 03:23 PM   #34
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No, my mom is in the US, and a bit of a crusty Yankee to boot.

As far as elderly housekeeping here.. I don't have a huge experience but can say that the majority of oldsters tend to get taken into the homes of a family member at some point. My Italian MIL is still 90% independent in her own apt. which is in the same building as Italian SIL. She is the only one I know of, of her age (over eighty), that is still living alone; the other half-dozen or so of my acquaintance are w/family. SIL has already taken in her own 90-ish MIL who is about 1/4-1/2 gone into senile dementia. There's quite a big market, though, for foreign (often illegal) 'badanti' (caretakers) for oldsters.

The near end of the line is, as in the US, the "casa di riposo".. the rest home / old age home. The one such structure I saw briefly was 1960s dormitory in appearance. I'm not sure if that was a private or public structure but I tend to think public. There may be some private facilities that might be more upscale American-style "assisted living", but few as yet. The "over-55" "active adult" segregation with golf carts and such is inexistent. The assumption seems to be that if you only need occasional, mostly non-medical, assistance you will rely on family members or engage an untrained home aide for daily living.

Home repair is less of an issue overall since the majority live in apartments, in which case there are virtually no yards, nor direct responsibilities for care of the exteriors or, usually, of the heating system. The worst issue might be plumbing/electrical problems or the odd appliance failure.

We have already had the occasion to do a remote 'intervention' when, while living in the US, we came to hear that Italian MIL had left a gas burner on and then gone to sleep. Only the quick action of a neighbor who came home late and smelled the gas saved her life by calling the FD (do not telephone the person or ring the doorbell!). Usually MIL is good about turning off the whole gas line after cooking, but for whatever reason didn't that one night. So, alarmed, we went online and found a gas stove with auto shut-off when it detects there isn't a flame, and had it sent to her house straightaway. She curses it, since it is not easy to light, whether by defect or design I'm unsure.

Another intervention after we came to Italy was to re-do the entire kitchen (IKEA, with a friend, over a weekend) while she was in the hospital getting her knee replaced. That was more of a gift and something to make working in the kitchen easier rather than an absolute necessity. We mounted all the upper cabinets much lower so she could reach them w/her arthritis, and nearly doubled the counter space in her tiny galley kitchen. The deep pull-out drawers for pots and pans were also a big improvement over the old-style plain-box lower cabinets where you had to bend down and reach in. It was a surprise and she would never have stood for it had she not been out-of-commission and unaware of our plan!.

We live a couple of hours away from MIL now. She visits for a few weeks a year, sometimes because she wants to and sometimes because other family members will not be nearby (like in August). We told her (me through a bit of clenched teeth, mentally) that she could come live with us instead of staying in Rome, but she seems to want to stay put with her familiar spaces and routine, no differently than many US forum members have recounted about their own older relatives.

With my mom in the US.. my big pet peeve is that there's only one full bath, upstairs, and while the tile is not falling off it still allows water to run down inside the wall and **fill up the downstairs hall light fixture with water**. She won't get it fixed and assures us that angling the showerhead correctly is all that is necessary. I worry that whatever is supporting the tub will eventually have rotted and that whoever is taking a shower may find themselves on their naked a**, with possibly a broken neck, in the front hall. The whole surround really needs to be re-done at minimum, but if it were my house I would have the whole bathroom stripped out to the studs anyway to assess any possible damage and renovated in its entirety. I can't imagine that being less than a 1-2 month project and there's no way it's gonna happen without me being there to initiate, make calls, prod, and oversee. My sister, 2 hours away with two little kids, can't really help.

Mom will say it's "not worth it" since she won't be long for this world. However, she's been saying that for 15-20 years.

For our own selves, we really need to think about it. We don't have kids to wipe our butts stand by our side in our golden years. DH loves the American assisted-living scheme but who knows whether our finances will permit that in 20+ years. I would hesitate buying a LTC policy not even knowing if the States will be where we spend our "real" retirement... the retirement from independence.

sorry for the big OT post, but Ron asked.
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Old 07-29-2008, 03:51 PM   #35
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sorry for the big OT post, but Ron asked.
Thanks for the details. I/DW were sitting here reading your response, and were thinking about my own mother (who has the same attitude about "dying tomorrow").

As I said, I've worked in Europe (primarily France & Sweden), but we've traveled to Europe (vacation) the last 12+ years (to Italy 2x - north & south).

In France, it's a case of "you're on your own". A few years ago (if you remember reading in the paper) quite a few "old folk" died due to lack of concern, while their family went on vacation (in August).

In Sweden, it's more of a state of no responsibilty for anything. I had a conservation one year with a Swede (around Christmas) and we spoke of what we were doing at our company (in the US) for some kids that lived in an orphanage. He responded that he also wanted his child to learn how to "volunteer". He had spent some time working/living in England, so he was aware of the concept (especially during the Christmas holiday). His wife, who never lived/worked outside of Sweden, did not "understand". You see, the Swedes have a true socialist state, where you are taken care of (albit with a lot of tax) and any "social problems" are taken care of. Panhandlers on the street are looked down upon, and elderly are expected to be living in their own, in a state subsided flat.

Just interesting in how things are done around the world. Anyway - it's late in "your part of the world". Go to sleep ...

- Ron
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:04 PM   #36
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Italy and Japan are two of the countries with an aging citizenship. In contrast the US has a younger population. You would think it is easier to find jobs in Italy or Japan, but what I have read says otherwise. Why? Enlighten me, please.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:49 PM   #37
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Not to debate or reduce the value in what you are doing (bless you for that). However, if you get the chance to directly contribute to a cause (such as being a worker handing out food at a food bank) you will find that you will "connect" with those that you are assisting. As a person (along with my wife) who contribute, we feel that what we are doing is important, it's the times that you are able to "participate in the process" (as in when I do when I deliver a meal) in where you actually see what you are doing, makes it all worthwhile.
Contributions = monologue
Volunteer = dialogue
It does make a difference (try it - let me know if you do )...
- Ron
I hear you; I've volunteered with non-profits before and these are the ones that we've connected with one way or the other (especially AccesSurf). And I hope that some of the kids who've kicked the crap out of me got the taekwondo grants-- they've earned them.

What's frustrating about volunteering directly for some non-profits is that it reminds me of why I don't like work. I did the tax returns for one for three years running, got called a year later for an encore, and thought I was going to have to chew off my arm to escape. I've watched another non-profit trying to implement a wonderful program but they are just not able to hire effectively, let alone manage their growth or respond swiftly/appropriately to wannabe corporate sponsors. All my hours and experience won't help that group. It reminds me of the Fortune article "Candystriper My Ass".

After a decade of experimentation, DonorsChoose.org is the ONLY way I've found to anonymously help a local school without getting beaten over the head by NCLB, having to deal with the principals & counselors, bogging down in the DOE's bureaucracy, or getting pestered to shelve library books. All we've ever wanted to do was to help the teachers slogging it out in the trenches, but a physics teacher who wants a piece of lab equipment has a tough time getting heard when the principal is trying to raise funds to rehab the gym or to support the senior class graduation project.

I know that our ER hours are worthless in salary terms, but at this point in my life I feel that I have more money to contribute than time. Maybe someday I'll be starving for interaction & human companionship, but that's not the trend...

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I don't know why the show has to give away such monster homes. I guess for the tv appeal, but I rarely watch the show because of this. I'm all for helping out people who have had a tough time, but most of these homes are over the top.
They need at least 3000 square feet to fit in all the product placements, let alone make room for the families! It takes so long to carry everything in at the end that they should shrink-wrap the furniture onsite and build the house around it.

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Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish ...
I've seen a management version that goes "Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for the rest of the day. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life!"
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:18 PM   #38
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It's barely midnight now, Ron.. If it's hot I tend to stay up pretty late and also sleep in late.

NW-Bound, I could write a book about Italy, though it would be a bad book since it could only scratch the surface and would remain, necessarily, largely uninformed. It's a feudal society, which is good if you are in and bad if you are out. It's extremely easy for illegal immigrants to find menial, usually black-market, jobs for low pay, no pension contributions and so forth. But the more 'classical', culturally hide-bound social structure impedes finding "regular" jobs in anything near to an easy and straightforward manner. Link the constraints of feudalism with the constraints of illiberal socialism/communism and you have Italy.

The US has a younger population but also a growing one. That means to stay at the same level of services they need to take on, more or less, a number of workers consonant with that population growth. Italy and Japan have declining or static populations, where a growing numbers of seniors might require more caretakers, but fewer cars, malls, clothes, and gadgets. Japan (to a greater extent, it seems) and Italy (to a lesser extent) are still both fairly xenophobic.

I looked into volunteering locally here, but the main charitable services are provided by the "Misericordia", the society of "Mercy", that runs the volunteer ambulance/paramedics and the old age home. To join, you not only have to go through a whole "application" process, but you have to be "sponsored" by a current member. So I kinda said to myself "screw you" to that (perhaps unjustly).

Other "initiatives" may be undertaken, but often on the part of the government or in rare cases by some particular political party. As you recount about Sweden, there's not much of an opportunity for just "showing up" since they feel they have it all under official control. And -to a far greater extent than in the US- they do. The Church is an option, but their efforts are targeted overseas to Africa and South America. We already sponsor poor kids from those regions via CCF.

There is only one 'panhandler' in our town of 5000. He is reputed to have been an accountant that went nuts; now he gets a check from the state and maybe some kind of housing set-up; I don't know. His name is Artemio, he's fifty-ish and he cruises the town with purpose, trying to cadge coins and cigarettes, sometimes singing and doing 'silly walks' worthy of Monty Python. He's not really in the real world, and it's pretty easy to put him off if need be.. he's innocuous. "The State" simultaneously "takes care of him", yet for now leaves him alone. The local population, similarly, "takes care of him" (with the odd coin or fag) yet leaves him alone. If he feels sick, he can go for free to the local doctor just like any of us here. He wouldn't be left to die, scabrous, under a bridge, at any rate.

I have to say I don't know whether he gets aggressive psychiatric treatment or drugs, whether that is indicated, or whether that would help. I'm sure he is happier roaming around than in some kind of institution, but he doesn't seem to pose any danger to himself/others. Another aspect is that 80% of the town is tightly inter-related, so if one day Artemio disappears someone will notice. I'm not sure how that would play out in Rome or Milan.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:04 PM   #39
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It says in the article that they were given enough money to pay the taxes on the house for years. Instead of using that money for taxes and the college fund for their kids' college they spent it all and took out a $450,000 loan on the house and apparently spent that too.

I can only assume some kind of drug/gambling addiction is the root cause. He runs a security business which in my mind says ex-meth user who decided now that he was rich* he could get back in the game with no consequences.

Wow, I have been seeing thread after popular thread in the "Look how stupid these people are, isn't it amazing everyone hasn't taken the same easy road as I did, what fools" slandering individuals without knowledge of what actually occured as drug addicts or worse.

It is my understanding they took a loan out and formed a construction company. With the present economy in that select area of business they of course failed and are now bankrupt. That does not make them drug addicts, it makes them poor.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:11 PM   #40
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and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
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