The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection on the previous year and anticipation of what is to come. While the work of emergency financial assistance is nothing if not unpredictable, there are certain things that seem to hold true.
Hardships Frequently Come in Multiples
It would be nice if bad luck came in single isolated events, one problem that, once solved, would let life continue on as before. At Binc we know that most often, this is not how real life works. Take for example a serious medical event. The overwhelming bills are bad enough, but a medical emergency is often accompanied by a loss of income as the person recovers. Piled on to the stress of the injury or illness is the worry of how to pay the bills without the income they need to do so.
Financial assistance is not based on one event or one moment in time. It is all about how that moment will impact household financial stability today and for the months to come. This is why Binc considers all the events happening in and uses a multi-pronged approach to get the bookseller’s household back on firm financial footing. Helping booksellers to negotiate their medical bills and/or negotiating and paying bills on their behalf is the first step. Once the bills are under control, Binc focuses on the bookseller’s other household expenses. Can those be covered while the bookseller is off work? Will the time needed for recuperation put the family in danger of losing their home or having their utilities shut off? Only by looking at the big picture can Binc plan the best method to really help the bookseller and their family for the long term.
Disasters Happen in Spite of Our Preparation
You could have the best plan in place and have checked off every box on Binc’s Disaster Checklist, but bad luck can still strike. As we saw this year, Mother Nature is fickle, spreading snow and ice storms, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and wildfires across the country. When natural disasters strike, they can create both a short- and a long-term need. In the short-term those impacted may need lodging, food, clothing and medicine to get them through an evacuation in the first hours after a disaster strikes. Longer term problems may include damaged or destroyed homes, or in the case of Paradise, CA, the destruction of an entire town. Bookstores may also be damaged or closed during disasters and even when they reopen it is often to very few customers as the community rebuilds. Once again, the need comes in multiple forms: immediate disaster assistance, replacement and rebuilding expenses, and loss of income in the aftermath of the disaster. Binc is ready, willing, and able to help in all of those situations.
Booksellers are Hesitant to Request and Accept Help
If you want to drive a Binc staff or board member crazy, tell us that you didn’t apply for assistance because “someone needed it more”. We hear this too often and are constantly telling booksellers that their need is as important as another’s. We get it, booksellers are a proud and independent bunch. That is what makes you all so good at what you do and the pillars of your communities. But every now and then, even the strongest pillar needs a bit of support to keep it strong. So, if life knocks you down, let Binc help you back up. You will be stronger for allowing your community of book people to give you a hand. And you will be in a better position to help someone else on another day.
Book People are the Best People
We continue to be amazed by the willingness of book people to help each other and the imaginative ways you accomplish this. Every natural disaster or story of a bookseller needing help is followed by a cry across the industry of “How can we help?”. We see this help every day come in different forms, whether it is a publisher writing a check, a trade association holding a fundraiser, a bookstore donating a portion of a day’s sales, or a bookseller making a small donation with every paycheck, that is the power of book people helping each other.
We appreciate the calls and emails we get alerting us when someone is in need of help. The bookselling industry is a family of like-minded folks who understand that it is the community that matters. We are proud to be a part of this community and grateful that you have embraced Binc as your foundation.
Here is to a happy and healthy 2019.