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MartyT

A Report To Our Members And Visitors

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Dear Ones,

Since our beginnings eleven years ago, our Grief Healing Discussion Groups site has been advertisement-free and open to everyone, members and visitors alike, at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering the information, comfort and support we believe you need and deserve as you each find your way through your individual grief journeys. Visitors are welcome to browse, and registered members are free to use all the features of the site.

Unlike other self-help forums for the bereaved, our site is privately administered, closely monitored and professionally moderated to ensure the highest level of quality, safety and security for our participants. Every post is reviewed and read by our moderators: two nationally certified grief counselors who visit the site several times a day, and who feel a deep personal and professional responsibility to monitor our site in a way that encourages understanding, growth and healing.

Our site has been described by the caregivers and bereaved who come here as a lifeline ~ a safe place to land when you need to be with others who “get it” and who understand. We know from your unsolicited comments and continued active participation that this is an important and valued service.

Still, it costs money to sustain and many hours a month to administer and moderate the site. Having lost our hospice sponsorship last October, we were left to find some way to continue the service on our own.

In an effort to cover expenses, in October of 2013 we added a Donate button to our pages, giving everyone an opportunity to donate toward its ongoing support. We suggested that members and visitors contribute as much (or as little) as they could afford, and as often (or as seldom) as they chose, either all at once or over an extended period of time (that is, a recurring amount automatically deducted from a credit card each month).

Now that we’ve had a year’s experience with that plan, this seems a reasonable time to report to you where we stand.

While the annual cost to keep our site going exceeds several thousand dollars, our donations over this past year reached a total of $4200. We are deeply grateful to our regular donors and to all those who have contributed this past year, but we note with some concern that it is the same half-dozen people who are giving. Some members have donated far more than their fair share, and they’ve done so more than once. One member’s donations account for roughly an entire one-third of the total amount.

Grateful as we are, we hope you will agree that it’s not fair that so few of our members have been carrying the weight for so many, who clearly have derived some benefit from our service.

As the holidays draw near, we are asking for your help. If you donated at the beginning of our campaign last October, would you consider doing so again? And if you’ve never done so, would you consider making a contribution of $20 or more? You can rest assured that your gift will be used to directly fund this service and keep it going.

As we enter the new year, we plan to re-visit this matter of donations and other methods of funding, and will keep all of you informed of our ideas and our findings.

Meanwhile, any thoughts or ideas you wish to share are welcomed and appreciated.

With heartfelt gratitude,
Marty Tousley

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Dear Fellow Travelers on this Grief Journey,

Hello. I am feralfae and I have been a contributing member of this forum since early in 2013 when I found this wonderful, healing place. I lost my husband Doug 7 February, 2012, and was wandering in a pain-filled fog until I found this healing home for my broken heart. I feel that I have been incredibly blessed to have had this warm and caring place to bring my grief, my sadness, my emptiness, and my pain, and to receive healing support and compassion from so many here.

Marty and Mary have been our constant support, our refuge from a grief-denying culture, and deep wells of wisdom from a richness of sources. Their professionalism and compassion have carried many of us through significant healings on this journey.

On behalf of each of us—for we all are helped by this place of lovingkindness and share support—I hope each of us can make a contribution here this week to help keep this place going. It is needed so very much by so many, and is, truly, a refuge for our broken hearts.

Please, if you can afford even $5 each month, or even $5 once a year, it would mean so much to have the support for this forum spread across a large share of those of us who benefit from this warming place. I have come to call it my Tribe, because I feel very close—and closely-identify with—so many other grieving hearts here.

Please help to make sure that this wonderful resource, this sharing circle, not only survives but also flourishes. Your generosity means a lot. If you can give a one-time gift of even $100, it might make the difference between this place being able to survive or not.

So, okay, no one is offering fudge or flowers, but this place offers healing and support. It is a place where, truly, grief shared is grief lessened, and joy share is joy increased. Let us help to make sure this place is still around for those who follow us and gather in this healing circle.

Thank you for your generosity.

feralfae

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Dear fae,

You have put into words what is the most significant reason for this forum I think and that is we are here as fellow mourners hoping to catch a moment of the lovingkindness that is here.

No one likes to ask for money but in order to keep a wonderful site like this going it does take money. Money for the technology tools required to operate a site like this ~ without ads, money for insurance, money for upkeep of licensing fees. The precious time given to monitor is FREE. Freely given with all the solid and up-to-date knowledge of grief at our disposal.

We are all looking for healthy ways to manage our grief. This is a site that provides us with just that so please consider any donation to keep it open.

Anne

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Part Two of my post above ~

Hello forum members,

I have been thinking of possible ways to reduce the cost of continuing to run this forum. I like to think of it as a business ~ which is what it was when HOV was in the picture and now is a one-person business struggling to continue to bring excellent and trusted information to those who are grieving. I still am trying to make sense of why HOV would so casually drop such an excellent resource. After all, HOV is in the business of helping those seeking palliative care, end of life care and bereavement care. How can they not see that a good grief forum is part of this entire package? Over 6600 members seem to me to be a rather large group to just throw away.

My first idea is to go back to HOV armed with research that would convince them that the Internet is a valuable way to reach thousands of grievers. After all, on a daily basis people who come to this site say that they were referred by grief counselors or friends or found us on the Internet. Many of these people have used HOV or have been in HOV grief counseling. I am one of those people who started out with hospice services for my beloved Jim and was referred to this site by the HOV office. I rarely go to the HOV web site but I do use and refer people to our grief healing discussion group site.

My second thought is that perhaps we need to keep our focus on only a few of the threads offered rather than so many individual topics. Perhaps a good web developer could assist in this. There are people who have that expertise that may be willing to offer their services. We could reduce the number of pages by combining topics and eliminating those topics that are not used ~ meaning those threads that never really get into a discussion of shared ideas which is one of the goals of this site ~ to discuss. Going through some of the threads I even noticed that in some areas there are only one or two comments and then nothing. Please understand I do not make judgments on what is said rather I’m thinking of combining topics so we could reduce the number of pages. I believe that what each one of us has to say is priceless and we never know how the words of one person may give meaning to another.

It may be time to archive threads and posts that date back a number of years. I think this was done before while still preserving our most precious journeys.

There is a software program out on the Internet called WordPress. It is free to start and is a powerful business hosting platform that grows with you. There would be a fee for what we probably need. Donations are a good idea but oftentimes people think it’s a “give only if you want to” and not “give to keep it going.”

As much as we all love having no advertising on our site ~ perhaps even HOV would reconsider getting back into the game if it meant promoting their value. Rehire Marty. Keep the ownership in Marty’s control while offering free advertising to Hospice of the Valley.

I would be willing to assist in researching the value of having this forum and present it to HOV. Perhaps they would reconsider and get Marty back on the payroll! Over 6600 people trust the valuable information presented on the griefhealingdiscussiongroups web site.

Again, if you are reading this please take the time to offer suggestions you might have and make a donation if you haven’t already done so. We want to keep this site open.

Anne

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"For it is in giving that we receive. . ."

"For it is in giving that we receive. . ."

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The photo above goes with this post ~

Other Ideas to Decrease Cost

1. Recognizing User behavior Metrics ~ consider using

a. Google Analytics (a free website that helps to know how the users are using links) will help in fine tuning the site ~ combining threads, deleting ones that aren’t being used. . .

b. Crazy Egg (another “tool” that shows a heat map of the site and details where users are clicking ~ gathering these facts will enable us to create more effective pages or eliminate ones not being used

2. I personally think that the graphic design is fine. I love the logo at the top of the web site.

3. I don’t think the written introduction to each thread has to be changed. It’s clear, concise and easy to follow ~ if some threads have to be merged to reduce the number of pages then the wording can be changed.

4. A picture is worth a thousand words ~ how often have we heard that! I think having the ability to add pictures or poems or videos are a great visual for many people and will draw people to those threads.

5. We already use all the social media buttons ~ it is not necessary to draw more people to this site.

If people think that the site is valuable I hope they will consider donating to it ~

If you use it and haven’t already donated please do.

All ideas are needed to keep this site open.

Anne

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As some of you may know, I run a NFP and a Foundation. We have five sites, three membership fora (plural of forum) and our own secure server for the protection of our membership. We do human rights work internationally.

Right now, I am in bed with the same flu my doctor has. She told me it lasts a couple of weeks, so I am here for a while.

But I talked to our accountant this morning about cost savings for our wonderful forum here. Here is what I found out by way of comparison:

We have our own server racked locally, and the cost is $900/year.

Our ISP service is $600/year.

Our tech and security support from an MIT chap is $1,200/year, which is a necessity for a publicly-accessed forum, to keep down spam and other problem visitors.

Our moderators/forum monitors (who have no special credentials) of whom we have four, cost $1,200/year each for keeping an eye on things and forwarding research requests and legal questions to the proper people. That's only $100/month each and at least one of them is online most of the time.

Our "experts" of whom we have three, and who have special knowledge and answer questions for our members, cost $3K; $3,600, and; $4,800/year, and all donate a good deal of time. All are licensed professionals.

I am not including any administrative costs here, because it is difficult to parse them out from general overhead, but I want to note that there are at least five of us who help to administer these programs. The accountant said to budget a minimum of $6K for this, but I am not including that in my total.

We have one dedicated terminal (Mac) which cost about $2K, and its operating costs are less than $50/month.

Total annual cost: $18,900.00. This is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from the fora users. We have around 600 active users at present. Therefore, average contribution is about $31.50/year for unlimited access. Our users tell us that the fora save them trips, travel, time, and research effort. Much of our work has to do with land rights for indigenous people. We offer expertise to activists and advocates, but primarily to indigenous groups directly.

And we run a very tight ship. We use Simple Machine, WordPress, Linux, and Adobe CS5 as well as Dream Weaver. Our security is very good, and so we have avoided a lot of spam and invasive bots, because the security is updated almost daily. Our fora are a small part of our efforts, but at least these numbers will give a window into the cost of a well-secured, focused forum with moderators/experts.

I am so impressed with what Marty and Mary have done with such a tiny amount of funds, and as volunteers (!) that I wanted to be sure I was donating my fair share to the operation of our beautiful Fire. I thought carefully about my contributions, and realized that if I had to leave home, go to town, join a support group, and have access to everyone only at certain times, I would spend more than I give here. I would not have the caring and compassionate presence of Marty (or Mary) to assist me with so many wonderful resources, and I would be far more limited in my access and interaction. Did I mention I am in bed? How many places could one go and have this access?

We all know that early on in grief, getting out can be very hard to do. For me, once I found this wonderful healing place, the 24/7 availability, the caring feedback, and the professional oversight, have all been worth more than I can compute.

So, think about the cost of finding and attending a support group locally, the limitations of many groups, the availability of professional counselors, and the wonderful Tribe that gathers here, and think about what that is worth to you. While it is always a great idea to cut costs for anything, there comes a point where we must grow revenue to meet the minimum operating needs of any operation.

Now, please reach into your purse, wallet, PayPal account, or piggy bank, and help us to meet and exceed a reasonable budget for our wonderful forum that has been so very helpful to so many of us.

Thank you.

fae

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Anne,

I like that you brought up the fact that there are so many different topics. I post and then sometimes forget where I posted it - go back to see if anyone commented - and then I can't remember where I wrote it! An example - I wrote a couple days ago asking for people's thoughts and experience on taking an anti-depressant to help during grief. I can't remember where I posted it and therefore can't find any comments that might be there. In addition, if people don't go to that particular topic, they won't know I'm asking for help unless I post in several different places.

Rita

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Dear Ones,

I have some errands to run this morning, so at the moment I cannot respond in any detail to any of your suggestions, but I will be back, I promise!

And Rita, my dear, if you click on your Display Name (anywhere it appears on the site) you'll be taken to your Profile page. At the top right is a button that says Find Content. Click on that, and you'll be able to find all the places where your posts appear. Note that on the left side of your screen, you can choose whether to find Only topics or Only posts.

I know that all the features of our site can seem overwhelming ~ I've used the site for more than ten years and I still don't know all its bells and whistles. But over time, as you become more familiar with it, I think you will learn which features you need to navigate the site successfully.

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What a dummy I am. There are other things I don't understand - "hot" - "pinned" - a star - a dot - Mark post as read. ? Is there someplace that explains these things?

Rita

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First of all, my dear Rita, you are NOT a dummy! This site has so many features that you cannot possibly figure out them all when you first join us, most especially when you are in the early throes of grief. We've all been where you are, so please don't criticize yourself for being confused by all this extra stuff!

Now, let me address your questions. Yes, there IS a place that explains all the features on the site. Again, on the main page of the site, at the very bottom of your screen, on the left side, in ridiculously SMALL print, is the word Help. Click on that link, and you'll be taken to the View Help Topics page. There are many categories you can explore, but for now, just click on Topics and Forums. I think that's a good place for you to start, and it will answer most of your questions.

(A "pinned" post is one that I want to "pin" to the top of a given forum, to maximize the chances that everyone who visits that forum will see it "pinned" there. I think it's a feature that only I (as a moderator) can use.)

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Dear Ones,

In response to some of Anne's worthy suggestions, I offer the following:

Anne said, My first idea is to go back to HOV armed with research that would convince them that the Internet is a valuable way to reach thousands of grievers. After all, on a daily basis people who come to this site say that they were referred by grief counselors or friends or found us on the Internet. Many of these people have used HOV or have been in HOV grief counseling. I am one of those people who started out with hospice services for my beloved Jim and was referred to this site by the HOV office. I rarely go to the HOV web site but I do use and refer people to our grief healing discussion group site.

My dear Anne, I can assure you that over the years I did my best to advocate for the value of our site and (in weekly written reports to my supervisor) to keep HOV thoroughly informed as to how much the site was being used as well as how much it meant to our members. I also shared my belief that the site was an excellent "marketing" tool for HOV, as well as a way to add an interactive component to its otherwise non-interactive website. The decision to let me go (along with discontinuing sponsorship of the site) was a cost-saving measure that HOV considered to be necessary at the time. As you may recall, I was not the only Bereavement Counselor who was let go in September of 2013, and many other staff members in other departments were let go as well. This is part of the message I posted here last September 27, 2013:

As some of you may know, hospices across the country are experiencing the chilling effects of a combination of events (including a decrease in admissions, increased government scrutiny via audits, cuts in Medicare reimbursement and implementation of the Affordable Care Act). To keep itself financially healthy, Hospice of the Valley has responded by cutting costs wherever possible. In recent days, departments have been reorganized, functions have been consolidated, a number of positions have been eliminated, and nearly 100 staff have been let go. I am sorry to say that one week ago today, I was notified that my own position as moderator of HOV’s online Grief Discussion Forums has been eliminated, along with HOV’s sponsorship of our site. As of Monday, September 30, I will no longer be employed by Hospice of the Valley, and as of today, this site no longer will be sponsored by Hospice of the Valley.

Anne also said, My second thought is that perhaps we need to keep our focus on only a few of the threads offered rather than so many individual topics. And she suggested various tools to recognize user behavior on the site.

While I have nothing against reducing the number of forums, doing so will not alter the cost of maintaining the site in any way. We can have as many or as few individual forums as we like, and I'm certainly willing to consider consolidating or eliminating some of them.

As for measuring user behavior, as owner of the site I have access to the Administrative Control Panel section, which already has a robust system for collecting statistics, including those that show total numbers of registrations, topics, posts and topic views on a yearly, monthly or daily basis. From these stats I can determine which forums are most "popular" (most often used) and which topics are most viewed.

Anne suggested that It may be time to archive threads and posts that date back a number of years. I think this was done before while still preserving our most precious journeys.

Thanks to the efforts of one of our members (RonB), the site continues to be archived every three months by ArchiveIt, although finding old posts is not as easy as I would like (see ). Still, thanks to the generosity of the folks at Archive-It.org, the site was archived (as http://hovforum.ipbhost.com) 117 times between August 28, 2004 and September 25, 2013, and 13 times (as http://griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com) between September 28, 2013 and September 11, 2014. (It still happens every three months, automatically.)

Fae also offers some useful and detailed information, giving some clear examples of the type of work that goes on behind the scenes (as well as the costs) to keep a site like this operational. (Thank you, Fae!)

The difference here is that I am a staff of one.

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Well, I tried and should have known that most areas I touched on had already been covered by our moderator, Marty…

I remember your post of September 27, 2013, Marty. It was a very sad day for many of us to see good, valuable people “let go” from HOV. I remember getting a call from my own grief counselor telling me that she was no longer employed by HOV ~ thank goodness I was already finished with my sessions! I asked about what was going to happen to clients she had already had a rapport with and she did say that she had a short period of time (a month) to finish with some of her clients before they would be turned over to another grief counselor. I had no doubt that all who remained with HOV were/are wonderful and knowledgeable people. What a shock for those grieving who had established a confidence in someone they were already working with though!

My mention of reducing the number of threads on the site was for a cost measure only ~ since it makes no difference how many pages we have that makes me happy to know it does not add to the cost. However, it does continue to make more work for the moderator who is a "staff of one!"

Good to know we have a “robust system” for monitoring stats. So, check that one off my list of ideas, also. I’m just not winning on this ~ thank goodness I’m not sensitive. :blush:

RonB gets a BIG thank you from me and I’m sure from others to know our posts are being safely preserved. I did not know that this was still being done. I for one need to go back and read “Important Announcements” again…

Back to the drawing board for me ~ I’m still going to ask for everyone to think about donating if you haven’t already.

Thank you for the answers to my thoughts and ideas. Thank-you, Marty, for all you do. I struck out this time but I’m not staying down ~ I’m sure I’ll come up with some more ideas.

Anne

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I don't know if it would help any, but would it be easier for people to make contributions if this were a 501©3? Even as I write tis question, I wonder if the extra bookkeeping is worth it, not to mention the filings and all.

I just hope that when Marty comes back with the year-end report, it is all good news on the financial front.

fae

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Dear fellow forum members,

During this Thanksgiving season I come to you and ask again that you give a modest donation to this forum so we can keep it up and running. Please read the message Marty has delivered to us about the amount of work that goes into overseeing this forum. It takes a lot of work to do social media every day and those of us who benefit from all the different venues Marty provides for us help us and in some ways change our lives.

The different areas that Marty gives of herself for our benefit are many. Besides being on Face Book, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and several places where she writes about grief on other websites, she constantly updates information on grief and makes these links available to us. Her work is tireless and done with great satisfaction ~ all to help those who grieve. I guess you could say it is her passion.

I know this because for over two years I have benefited from the professional information available to us.

Our Forum

http://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com/

Grief Healing

http://www.griefhealing.com

A special blog that provides multiple pieces of grief information

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/

Self-Healing Expressions ~ Oh, that first year of grief

http://healingebooks.com/grief-ebook.

Our beloved pets

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2009/12/pet-peace-of-mind.html

Her message about the need for donations

No, I am not getting paid for saying this :blush: ~ it comes from my heart and because I feel that I have been able to walk through my own grief having been on this forum and learned from others who are in their own grief.

Anne

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Just see what I found ~ another good reason why we need to keep this discussion group going. Congratulations, Marty, on yet another recognition honor for all your hard work. This is indeed an honor to be recognized by this group for another year.

Not only is this website a healing ground for those of us who come here regularly but, this website is also recognized by other experts as a professional area for all who stop here by chance.

I am pleased to report that both the Grief Healing Blog and the Grief Healing Discussion Groups Web sites are fully compliant with Health on the Net Foundation’s HONcode. We've recently been notified that both sites continue to be HONcode-certified, which entitles us to display the HONcode seal on the sites’ home pages through November 2015.

Health On the Net (HON) was founded to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the Internet. The Health On the Net (HON) Foundation is a non-governmental organization, internationally known for its pioneering work in the field of health information ethics, notably for the establishment of its code of ethical conduct, the HONcode—the oldest and most trusted code for medical and health-related information available on the Internet.

The HONcode certification is an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information. It demonstrates the intent of a website to publish data that are objective and transparent. The HONcode seal certifies that a website provides transparency regarding authority, authorship, confidentiality, and funding, is up-to date, honest about advertising, and provides clear distinction between advertisement and editorial content.

When certification is requested, a site is examined by a HONcode review committee (which includes medical professionals) who make a thorough visit to the site to verify if all eight of the HONcode ethical principles are respected. A site which is found to respect the eight HONcode principles is given a unique dynamic seal to place on its pages. The seal is directly linked to a HONcode certificate located on the HON website, so that future visitors need only to click on the seal to make certain that certification is still valid. Certification is valid for one year, and sites must be re-assessed annually for re-certification by the HONcode expert team.

If you are among the thousands of individuals looking for information, comfort or support with caregiving and grief, or to participate in an online grief forum or message board, it’s important to recognize that not all Web sites are of equal quality.

How can you be reasonably certain that the site you find is safe and reliable, and that the information it offers is accurate? As mentioned in an earlier post, before you decide to join any online grief forum or message board, you are wise to consider these precautions:

  • Investigate before you participate. Notice whether the service is sponsored by a reputable organization, and learn whether the moderators are qualified to offer information and support.
  • Read about the moderators to learn about their background, education, training, licensure and certification. Make sure they have experience in facilitating groups and knowledge about the normal grief process. Read some posts written by the moderators to get a sense of their approach to grieving people.
  • When health information is offered, check to see that references are cited.
  • Make certain that the group or forum you select is made up of mourners with whom you can identify. Read some of the posts in a given forum to decide if you can relate to the people gathered there.
  • Look for a statement of the group’s purpose and its “ground rules.” These should appear on the site’s main (or “home”) page. See, for example, Grief Healing Discussion Group Guidelines.
  • Look for an option that enables you to report to the moderator(s) any post that you find objectionable.
  • Use your own good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, if you don’t feel safe, accepted or understood, trust your instincts, leave immediately and find another group.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing Newsletter. Sign up here.

© by Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC

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I also urge and encourage all of our forum members to make a donation. A regular monthly donation can be as little or as much as you can afford. You do not have to make a huge annual donation all at once.You can set it up for auto withdrawal, and never have to worry again. I only wish I could give more on a monthly basis. The help and support received here is priceless to me, and I know to other forum members. If you cannot afford to donate, that is understood, but those who can, if you can give even just a little, it will all add up and help tremendously.
By the Way, I am in awe of not only Marty for the work she does for us here, but Anne and Fae, with their wonderful ideas, and their understanding of the workings of a site like this.......I know nothing, but am totally impressed!!! :o:D
QMary

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Here we are, in December, and I am hoping that everyone is helping out with any size contribution that you can offer. I believe this site is worthwhile and is a blessing to those who come here for healing and sharing. I don't think there is another place like this one on the internet, nor do I think any of us will find the healing, the tools to help us move through our grief, or the wisdom that flows from such a wealth of research and practice, as we have here.

Please, if you have not made a contribution this month, this quarter, or this year, now is the time to show your support. If you have made a contribution earlier, and could now afford to make another contribution which benefits so many -- your contribution will help keep this site going -- please make another contribution, no matter how much, and thereby vote your support with your gift. Please help us to keep this wonderful, healing circle, around this warm and caring fire, strong and viable for those who are here now and for those who will follow.

Your presence, your contribution, and your support and sharing with others all matter. Please take a moment today to support this wonderful place and all it offers to those who arrive in need of the support, caring, compassion, and healing that we find here.

Thank you.

fae

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Marty, Fae, anyone who knows:

I am trying to donate by MasterCard. How do I do this? I keep getting PayPal, and I'd rather use my MasterCard only.

Carrie

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Hi Carrie ~ As far as I know, when you click on the Donate button, you're given the option of using PayPal or your choice of credit card. If this is not the case on your home screen, I don't know how to assist you. Perhaps one of our other members has the answer?

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