So you want to help a friend or loved one (or even just some random person) who has become a victim of toxic mold? You just don’t know where to start or what help to offer?
I get it. If you haven’t been through the tragedy that is toxic mold, it is pretty tough to wrap your brain around the whole situation. I know my family and friends really struggled with how to help. Since we lost everything we owned TWICE, it seemed pretty overwhelming to people and they were just at a loss with what they could do. To them, it seemed so small compared to our ginormous need.
Today I would like to share 9 things you can do to help an individual or a family who has fallen victim to toxic mold. And by falling victim, I mean losing everything – their home, their belongings, their health. These might be temporary losses in the event of a recent or small scale mold issue. In the case of a large scale, long standing issue (like ours), the loss is devastating, permanent, and forever life altering. In either case, there are a lot of ways you can support and help those in need. And remember- these are just suggestions, not hard and firm “must do’s.”
9 Ways To Help A Victim Of Toxic Mold
1. Offer the person(s) a place to stay. We had to leave our home almost immediately after we received our test results. Luckily, two out of three of the humans living in my house had a place to go to. Rasta Daddy remained in the home until an alternate living arrangement presented itself. But that took a couple of months which was far from ideal. If you have an extra room and can offer it up for the short term, please do so.
2. Offer the foster any pets living with the person or family. I went into panic mode trying to find temporary homes for my cats. That also took months to sort out. They are safe now but for a while there I was close to having to make a really tough decision about their fate. Anyone who has to abandon their life because of mold does NOT want to send their pet(s) to a shelter. Many toxic mold victims lose everything. There is no reason that person or family should also have to give up their beloved pet if a temporary foster home can be found.
3. Start a fundraiser! I had a couple of friends who jumped on the fundraiser bandwagon. They wanted to help us pay for the initial appointment with a mold specialist who could assess our health issues. Toxic mold is expensive. The testing is expensive. If you choose to remediate the home, that is expensive. Temporary living arrangements are expensive. If you lose everything, that is expensive as you have to replace so much. Should you go the way of a lawsuit, that has a LOT of upfront costs that are the responsibility of the victim and not the attorney. Let’s not forget medical care. That is beyond expensive. Any and all financial support is welcome.
4. Get the person or family a gift certificate to their favorite store – even a grocery store! If you can lessen their financial burden in any way, that will allow for some wiggle room in other areas that are burdening the available resources.
5. Don’t purchase or donate things you think the family will need without asking the family first. A LOT of well-meaning people started cleaning out their garages and sending stuff our way. While I appreciated the kindness and the intention behind the donations, we were in a VERY temporary living situation and had no room to store things. Beyond that, we were so ill from the mold exposure that any additional mold exposure could have sent us over the edge. We were advised NOT to accept anything used unless we knew 100% that is came from a mold free environment. I was so terrified of mold exposure at that point that it made accepting donations a difficult thing for me. So in a sense, getting stuff was not good for my mental health. Some people did ask what we needed specifically and I was more than happy to give them a few items of immediate need to choose from.
6. Offer to help them with whatever needs to be done at the moldy home. I don’t mean go expose yourself to toxic mold of course! But ask if there is a way you can help safely. A dear friend’s husband came down and took apart my daughter’s play structure so we could store it at my parents’ house. Another friend came and helped us move the items out of our garden shed. We had enough to deal with. While these two projects were small compared to the overall picture, having the extra help was truly a blessing. It was one less thing on an overwhelming to do list.
7. Have photography skills? Can you at least use a camera? If a family is losing everything, offer to take some photos of any children’s artwork. These can be brought outside and someone else can take the pictures. The same goes for non-digital photos. Ask the person or family if there are any keepsakes they would like to remember. Instead of losing special memories, help someone by preserving them through photographs. A lot of people suggested that I should take pictures of things. Well, that is all well and good but there was a time issue as well as an emotional issue. It is just too heart breaking to do that yourself. It really is. So please, offer to do this for them.
8. Make phone calls on their behalf. I had to make A LOT of phone calls after Moldageddon. Many of these were just information gathering calls that could easily have been completed by friends. Let the person focus on the most important of calls and help by making some of the other calls.
9. Just listen. Don’t ask a lot of questions. Instead, just listen. Make sure your friend or family members know you are there to help. Then follow through with whatever help you offer. I was left hanging on several occasions and it just about sent me over the edge. I truly needed that help. I also needed to support. Someone to just listen to whatever I was prattling on about. I promise – the prattling ends. But while the person is fresh out of Moldageddon, let them talk about whatever they need to talk about.
In what ways would YOU help a victim of toxic mold? Can you share some ideas to add to these 9 suggestions?