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by Laura (aka Black Leather Rain)

Yesterday, Hail Ripley posted an update on The KINship Project, titled Minding our pleas and FAQs.  I’d like to continue in his vein to give you further detail and some more specific requests for help.  Won’t you join me, below the fold?

I’ll also introduce myself, so you can learn a little more about each of the principals of the KINship Project.  My name is Laura, and I’ve been here at dKos for a little under a year, a transplant from HuffPo who found the great orange Satan during a contentious primary season.  I’ve never looked back.  I’m a firm believer in not balancing my news with utter BS, so I find it very difficult to relate to HuffPo, with their sensationalism and glut of conservative commenters.

Ah, but I digress.  I am an avid gamer and addict of World of Warcraft (did you know that Daily Kos has a Warcraft guild?  It’s called "Wreck List" and was started by MoodyLoner.  I highly recommend that fellow gamers come on over to the Garrosh server and let us know you want to join!).  I live with my husband and our many furbabies in NC.  I’m an agnostic who enjoys teetering on the fence of religion, and will readily (eagerly, even) defend or attack any particular point of view depending on the argument being made, and how I’m feeling at the time.

A brief history of KINship

I spent months of 2008 rooting for Democrats I’d never heard of before (Darcy who?  And what happened to her house?  OMG!  She must get my money!), and working for the most inspirational Presidential candidate I’d seen in my short three decades on this ball of dirt.  When November 6th hit and I could no longer mock the freepers (I’d promised only one day of gloating), I continued reading dKos because it had become a habit.

What I was reading was frightening.  It started out as one diary, then a few weeks later, another.  Soon, it became a quiet flow through the Recent Diaries list, some of them passing with few comments, a select number reaching the Rec list, all saying the same thing:  I’m hurting, I’ve not had a job in X months, my house will be lost, or how will I feed my children?

The first was a GBCW diary in October, written by a woman who had just lost her phone, expected her internet to go within a day or two, and expected her electricity and house to soon follow.  Her last action was to say goodbye to a community she loved, and let us know why we weren’t going to hear from her for the foreseeable future.  The response?  An outpouring of support from the community both in kind words, ideas to help the situation, and donations to her directly to help her stay afloat.

That diary and the outpouring of support from the dKos community is where the idea of KINship was spawned.  Many of us waxed on (myself included) about how nice it would be to have micro-grants available to help people like her.  Eventually, KINship formalized into a tiny organization with big plans.  In November and December, we collected Kossack donations, and used them to help deliver holidays to multiple families, and even help match local Kossacks who were willing to share their holiday bounty with other nearby KIN (Kossacks in Need).  Recently, part of our fund was used to supplement the cost necessary medical testing for a Kossack whose insurance company refused to pick up the cost.

The vision and future of KINship

We have three committee members in KINship: myself, Ripley, and Patrick.  The definition of what KINship is and what we want it to be will necessarily vary depending on which of us is communicating that information, but we will all agree on one thing: we want KINship to help Kossacks, and to allow Kossacks to help each other.

Therefore, let’s talk about the future.

KINship is not yet a non-profit organization.  We still talk about formalizing it as an NPO some time in 2009, which will need some more discussion and a lot of formality that we just don’t have together yet.  However, this is one potential aspect of KINship in the future – matched grants, applying for Federal money and the like.

KINship still needs donations.  Not today, mind you, but active fundraising will be a part of our future.  We have been asked more than once about auto-deduction for people who want to sponsor KINship on a monthly basis.  We’re going to look into this, and at the very least, we can set up a way to "bill" those who wish to make monthly donations through PayPal.  Considering it is a voluntary participation, anyone who chooses not to donate or to be taken off of the monthly list can do so easily.

KINship wants you to be part of a PAC – Professional Action Committee.  KINship PACs (tentative name, made up for this diary) are groups of professionals who make themselves available to KINship when specific requests come through the line for help.  Ideally, we’ll have a Legal PAC, a Medical PAC, possibly a Dental PAC, and I would like Kossacks for a Resume PAC, as well.  Your contact information would be kept completely anonymous, and here’s how the PAC is envisioned:

  1. A KIN (Kossack In Need) contacts KINship with a need that goes beyond financial help.  They’ve been struggling with illness and don’t have insurance, or maybe they’re laid off and need help finding a job.
  2. KINship takes the email from this KIN and forwards it to the appropriate PAC.  In this example, we have someone who needs an edge in the job market and would like their resume reviewed.
  3. The email goes out to all members of the Resume PAC.  One PAC member decides they can help, and sends an email out to the rest of the group saying, "I got this."
  4. The PAC participant then considers the situation, drafts a constructive response and chooses whether to contact the KIN directly via email or to stay anonymous and funnel their feedback through KINship’s main email address.  The KIN now has help and can ask further questions or take the information and move forward.

KINship needs Graphic Designers for our website.  Interested parties may contact our web guru, Ripley, at scott (at) kinship-project (dot) org.  We’d like something with orange in it, please!  The designer whose design is implemented on the website will be credited in each page’s footnote with a link to your home page, if you have one.

KINship desperately needs writers and researchers.  
Writers and researchers, you may ask – why do you need those?  Well, we need lots of information on our upcoming website, as follows:

KINship-project.org

Our website is not yet launched – as Ripley says, "it’s still in diapers."  He’s working on the backend programming and we’re flinging ideas left and right about functionality.  One thing we all do agree on is – we need content, which is why we need Researchers.  The website is intended to be a public clearing house of content for people in need.  Medical bills piling up with no help from insurance companies?  We want to have a section on organizations and articles about Medical issues, treatments, insurance, and how to find help.  Lost your job and foreclosure is weeks away?  We want to offer articles and links to organizations that will help you.  As a worst case scenario, we also want you to know what organizations will take you in if you ever lose your home.

Here are some of the broad topics we’d like to address:

  • Health Issues (home remedies, dealing with insurers, Medicare/Medicaid)
  • Legal Issues (finding pro-bono work, online resources, drawing up forms)
  • Unemployment (regional & national job banks, resume help, work-from-home resources, food banks)
  • Homelessness (agencies that can help, shelters to stay in, general advice)
  • Social Services (government benefits, HUD help, food stamps, fighting the system for benefits, ESL & adult ed services)
  • Finance (budgeting, negotiating with credit companies, fighting foreclosure, banks)

We welcome your suggestions for other topics (detail topics or broad topics), but more importantly – we want your help, and need your labor.  We need you to drill down into the vast interwebs and find links, phone numbers, names, organizations that will help in these areas.  They will be sorted by state on the website.  If you have personal experience and are willing to write an informational article, we can use these, as well.

Currently, we have a Google Group that’s been largely ignored since December, but still houses the preliminary information we began throwing together (note: if you are currently a member of the Google Group, you’ll be getting a notification from us today to see if you still wish to be part of the group).  We can house the developing articles, lists of information and the like there until the website is at a point where we can begin archiving information there.

Please contact me at kinshipplanning (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions, or to request to join up as a researcher, a writer, a PAC member.  Please contribute below if you have additional ideas – different PACs that we should put together, more ideas about topics that we should research and address, things that would have helped YOU when you were having a rough time.

Thank you for your support!
Laura

Originally posted to The KINship Project on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:13 AM PDT.

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