It’s major update time. Plus it’s holiday shopping time! When you’re out in the hustle bustle, please do not reward that annoying bell-ringer, but instead drop a donation to Hazel.
Shopping of any sort is quite a thing for people in the best of health. For Hazel, it’s almost impossible. But we’ve got a new way to help Hazel with her shopping. She now has an ABLE account; more about that below. So please do help her with her shopping, if you’re able.
|This one's too moldy.|
The frenzy that begins with a bang at Halloween and ends with a post-New-Year’s whimper passes us by almost unnoticed, as Hazel can’t go out shopping at all. Given enough time and help she can choose things online. We order online, or I go out shopping for her… and exchanging… and exchanging again. Whether it’s clothing or equipment, we have to get things into the house and keep them for a while until she has energy to try them out for fit, comfort, and functionality. We usually have to repeat the process three or four times for any one item, whether it’s a blouse or a pair of headphones. Or even a car!
This past year has marked some major milestones, and one of those was replacing of the car we fundraised for—a 20-year-old Jeep Cherokee Sport that itself had replaced our moldy old 30-year-old Toyota Camry. The Jeep was the only thing we could find in our price range at the time so I took a chance on it, but it turned out to be way too noisy and bouncy a ride for Hazel.
|This one's too noisy.|
I found out the absolute best thing: an electric vehicle — the Kia Soul EV — and there were rebates and incentives from the manufacturer, the dealer, the state, the county, and the electric company, that made it an amazingly doable deal. So using funds from the Jeep’s sale and additional contributions for a down-payment, I leased us a brand new Soul with super-low monthly payments and maintenance costs so close to zero, it practically pays me to drive this car.
|This one's just right!|
So thank you once again for making wheels possible!
Another special thanks goes out to KW who purchased a highly portable electric wheelchair for Hazel. It’s another miracle. It will be delivered by early December, and it’s so lightweight and compact it can even be folded down and taken on an airplane flight. It’s an important piece of the transportation puzzle because it will fit easily into the Soul, making any appointment a smooth trip.
Non-electric but heartwarming news is that we have Hazel’s Hound.
Although we failed to reach our fundraising goal to cover professional training, we found the perfect dog at a rescue adoption event and committed to training her ourselves. Luckily she came with good, solid, basic training. Also luckily, I’ve been able to find some good resources and precedents for training one’s own service dog, so with those as encouragement we’re working on everything from retrieve, to help me up (from the tub, or from the floor after a fall) to not only finding and retrieving items but carrying them between us.
|Reina, Hazel's Hound|
Reina is a super-mellow but strong and sturdy mix of Shepherd and Ridgeback, who has excellent grocery store manners, is getting pretty good at her dining out behavior, and even knows a couple of standard dog tricks so we can show off her obedience to anyone who’s dubious. The physical support she’s learning to provide is valuable enough, but already her emotional support makes nightmares and panic attacks far less frequent.
|Reina in Training|
We’re still having some trouble with those, and with neighborhood noise, and the sort of special sleep disruption that troubles most people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, so our goals of getting Hazel out for urgently needed dental care and specialist appointments is still unreached; and she still needs financial help to get that dental and medical care and supplies, as well as some schooling and art supplies that will help her occupy her mind in positive ways. All of which need brings me to the topic I mentioned up top, of the ABLE account.
ABLE accounts were set up to assist people who became completely disabled by the time they were 26 years old. A person disabled at such a young age has not had an opportunity to complete school or training and then work enough to amass any sort of nest-egg.
So she not only has no retirement account and no opportunity to create one, but she also has no funds set aside to cover the needs her disability creates. Like the need for a special desk chair, that reclines comfortably so she can rest right there when she gets dizzy. Or the need for text books and supplies so that she can complete a high-school education at home and move on to college-level study, albeit at a very slow and broken pace, as the pain and brainfog allow.
Also, Hazel can’t count on her mom at her side helping her all her life. Though disabled myself, there's so much I've had to help her with. The IHSS hours that provide some assistance with household chores and errands do not cover the vast range of additional help she needs, from choosing a desk chair or text books and school supplies, to handling paying bills or banking, to waking at all hours of the night to help her cope with nightmares or noise. Someday, she’ll need a fund on hand to hire help beyond what IHSS provides.
But how to raise funds for all these things, and keep the funds available, without her being penalized by losing her SSI Disability income? A trust fund might not affect her SSI Disability but the funds aren’t accessible and the cost of setting up the trust is prohibitive. I was researching, trying to find a way to create a trust that could work, when I learned about the new ABLE account. But it still took a few years for the ABLE legislation to become the ABLE reality.
Now, ABLE allows a disabled person, who was incapacitated by the age of 26, to keep a certain amount of funds in a special savings or interest-bearing checking account, earn interest, and access those funds for medical expenses, education, even travel and entertainment. So having an ABLE account will really mean a chance to live a fuller and more satisfying life.
And while we haven’t yet set up a paypal that goes directly to the ABLE account, that's in the works, and meanwhile you can either contribute by paypal which we’ll then transfer into ABLE, or you can transfer funds directly from your bank to Hazel’s ABLE account by following this link to UGiftABLE.com and entering the Ugift Code: A97-P1L That code will send the funds to the correct account.
Please note that it's going to say it's going to Coll. That was Hazel's birth name. Until she can change all her paperwork and ID, that's what shows up on financial forms. So it will say "Coll" but Hazel will receive a notification and Hazel will thank you. Well, I’ll help her get the notification, and I’ll help her thank you, for helping to make not just the season, but life, bright.
And as I mentioned earlier, in case it's easier for you, the PayPal button still works. It's just one tiny extra step for mom, to transfer funds to the ABLE account, and I'm happy to do that. It's all-electric, and easier on the ears than ringing a bell!