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After donating, it’s all about honor

Q. A poor family in our community was recently involved in a violent incident in which young family members were injured. A fund has been set up for them. How do I make sure the adults in the family use the money for the children, rather than themselves?

A. Bottom line: You can’t.

Once you make a donation, it’s out of your pocket. Unless you know and trust the person who set up the bank account for the family, you have no guarantee that the money will even make it to the family, let alone the children.

The fund belongs to the person who opens it up, and the person could use it for beer and cigarettes for himself, rather than give it to the family involved in the tragedy. Financial institutions do not police these funds.

“Financial institutions can’t go around asking for documentation of where the money went. That’s just not our role,” said Dan Hansen, senior communications officer for Spokane Teachers Credit Union. “And if you came in and said I want to give to that memorial fund, but I want to know who opened up the account, that’s information we can’t release.”

Some options. Give a donation to organizations that might be helping the children, such as a social service agency that provides counseling for victims of violence.

If the family attends church, you might ask the church’s pastor to give the donation to the family, with the request it be used on the children.

Or you could trust that the person who set up the fund is honest, as are the parents. You could trust that your money, along with other donations, will be used to help the children. That requires a big leap of financial faith, and one we don’t recommend here at EndNotes.

Q. My mom is 83 and recently broke her hip. She is recovering in a care facility, but she refuses to eat properly, and does not cooperate with her physical therapist. At this point, do I just show her kindness or offer her my honest, nagging opinion?

A. One of the hardest lessons in life is to let other people make their own decisions and live with the consequences. We cannot infuse joy, passion or the will to live into another person.

While you have strong feelings about how your mom should be managing her health challenges, it is her life. Perhaps you believe you would handle that same challenge differently. However, people have unique personalities and tolerance for suffering.

While understanding the philosophical reality of your mom’s suffering, you do have options. Does your mom have a physician who sees her in the care facility? Will she allow you to be with her while the doctor talks with her? If so, ask questions and report your observations. Many times with an injury, patients are prescribed new medications. And patients can have adverse reactions to those medications, including depression.

If your mom will not allow you to join her doctor visit, call the doctor and report your concerns. Privacy laws will prevent the physician from giving you information, but those laws do not prevent you from telling the doctor your concerns.

Ask a social worker or chaplain to visit your mom. Patients often talk openly with strangers about their feelings and fears, but never speak a word to their families.

Your mom will do what she needs to do, even if that means letting go of her life. You can urge her to comply with her care plan, but she may need your unconditional love more. And your love is a perfect final gift.

Catherine Johnston, a health care professional from Olympia, and Rebecca Nappi, a Spokesman-Review features writer, welcome your questions about what to do in times of illness, dying, death and grief. Contact them through their EndNotes blog at blogs/endnotes

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