Eight days ago when I first covered this story, ERIC L. WATTS had just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $11,000…of which, the first $6,000 would go toward getting his house out of foreclosure and the other $5,000 would pay off the credit card debt accrued from Eric personally covering the shortfalls from the TREKLANTA convention (held each year since 2011). For the past five years, that convention has hosted what is now known as the BJO AWARDS, the only annual contest focused exclusively on honoring Star Trek fan films.
While I don’t usually cover campaigns for personal crowd-funding help, in Eric’s case, I made an exception because Treklanta and the Bjo Awards are a special resource for our fan film community, and I’d rather not lose either of them. And of course, Eric is a friend, and I don’t want the guy to be homeless.
I’ll be honest with you—I doubted that Eric would be able to pull this off…even just making it to $6,000 to save his house. It wasn’t that I doubted the generosity of our community. Heck, my own recent crowd-funding for Interlude has been surprisingly successful. But this isn’t a campaign for a fan film. Donors won’t get anything in return for supporting Eric’s campaign…other than the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being in need.
But it turns out that our community has quite a big heart after all! And in just a little over a week, Eric is within $535 from being able to save his house…and just in time, as his past-due mortgage payments must be received by early September (I don’t have the specific date) or else his home goes into foreclosure.
Part of the reason for the success of Eric’s campaign is certainly Eric’s reputation as an important part of our fan film and Star Trek community, along with his work in organizing the Bjo Awards each year. Another is that Eric wisely made use of a relatively new crowd-funding feature on Facebook where donations can be made through their site, as well.
So instead of having one campaign trying to reach $11,000 to cover mortgage and credit card debt, Eric now has two campaigns, each trying to reach only $6,000 combined to cover just the past-due mortgage itself. (Paying off the credit card will potentially be a separate endeavor. Right now, the priority for Eric is to keep his home.) Here are links to the two campaigns…
By splitting the campaign in two, a new avenue for donations was opened, and now the GoFundMe is up to $3,145 from 52 donors (including me), and the Facebook total is at $2,320 from 53 backers. That combines to $5,465…just $535 away from the $6,000 Eric needs to (after fees) save his house. I think he might just be able to pull this off after all!
Eric provided me with the following statement of gratitude…
I am humbled by the enormity of the compassion and generosity that has been shown to me over the last week and a half. I went into this, frankly, without any great expectation of even coming close to reaching the campaign goal, and was spending a lot of time looking around my house and wondering what needed to be packed up, donated, or thrown out, all in anticipation of losing the house to foreclosure.
It was hard for me to open up and bare my soul the world, exposing for all to see the situation I was in. But when friends and strangers alike started donating to the campaign, I was partly shocked, partly relieved, and tremendously grateful for the support that was expressed.
Times are tough for so many people, I really didn’t think that asking for help would result in much… but now, less than two weeks later, I am cautiously optimistic that the goal will be reached and I’ll be able to get all the past due mortgage payments paid and the account fully up to date. I just don’t know how to thank so many people for their generosity.
The great majority of donations have come from fellow Star Trek fans, and I am so uplifted by, and proud to be a member of, this fandom. Once I am fully back on my feet financially—we’re just a few hundred dollars short of that right now—I can finally get my household affairs back in proper order and continue my work for fandom. I just want everyone to know how truly grateful I am for their support.