In April 2020, covid was spreading like wildfire and I found myself unemployed because the company I had worked at for five years decided to cut staff to protect their profits as the world locked down. I was suddenly staring down a pandemic with no income and no health insurance. It was terrifying, but I wasn’t alone. So many people in my life stepped up to help me.
One of those people was Dr. Pamela.
Like everything else about that year, the exact timeline of events is a blur. I was puttering around my house, working on a cross stitch project and marathon-watching Murdoch Mysteries. I was driving up to Philadelphia to marry my now-wife for health insurance (we were going to get married anyway) and back down to Atlanta, a silk scarf tied around my face because hey, remember that N95 mask shortage? Then I was puttering around my house, playing Mass Effect for the fifth time and crying because I didn’t know when I would see my wife again.
At some point during that endless blursday, Dr. Pamela reached out to me. She said she had a job, very very part-time but fully remote, doing the things I love: audio engineering, video editing, and writing. I was going to have a steady income; I was going to be able to move up to Philadelphia to be with my wife. The world was a little less scary that day I accepted her job offer.
And that day I accepted her job offer was also the day I met all of you. This kind, generous, funny, passionate, weird, and wonderful community of people. People who believe that science and art can coexist, people who want to make the world a better place. My people. Y’all got me through the darkest parts of the pandemic, both financially and emotionally. When the protests popped off in Atlanta that summer and the National Guard occupied my neighborhood, your voices in my headphones drowned out the sounds of tear gas canisters.
Dr. Pamela is one of those people who cultivate strong communities around them because she’s kind and believes in being the change she wants to see in the world. She fights tooth and nail to make sure all of us in her orbit have a soft place to land when our lives go sideways. She will fall on her sword to protect us.
I want to return the favor, at least as much as I can in this moment.
Dr. Pamela does a lot and sacrifices more than we know to make sure the people under her, myself included, have a regular paycheck and benefits. If there isn’t enough money to pay everyone, she’s the first person to forfeit her pay to make sure her staff is paid. And she does this to such an extent that when she budgeted how much money we need to bring in for CosmoQuest to make it through 2023, she didn’t include her own salary.
I’ll be upfront with y’all about something: asking for money is hard.
Dr. Pamela will be the first person to tell you that she can ask for money all day long for her staff but when it comes to money for herself, she struggles. It’s not just money at stake here, but her benefits. Her paid time off, her health insurance, life insurance, and retirement. She needs 20 hours a week to keep those benefits.
We need to bring in an additional $50,000 on top of the $50,000 ($100,000 total) we already needed to make this happen. I know that looks like a lot of money when you put it in writing, but once you factor in institute overhead, employer taxes, and a bunch of other stuff I’ll be honest I still don’t understand, there isn’t a lot left over for salary. Dr. Pamela is once again taking a large pay cut to make sure the rest of us get paid.
So this is me returning the favor as much as I can and asking y’all:
Will you help us meet our fundraising goal so Dr. Pamela can keep her benefits?
Your friendly neighborhood producer,
PS: I politely bullied Dr. Pamela into also writing for help. You can read what she wrote over on Medium