I started writing this blog 3 months ago, but its topic, which involves all of the drama and passion of a morality play, has been the subject of ongoing change as reported in the news, so I amended it before posting. The story involves a homeless drug-addicted man, Johnny Bobbitt, who allegedly used his last $20 to help a young lady, Kate McClure, when she allegedly ran out of gas near the spot where Bobbitt was panhandling. In turn, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, started a GoFundMe.com page for the purpose of helping Bobbitt with his drug addiction problems and finding him a home. The public responded graciously and $400,000 was raised to assist Bobbitt. As this story involves the human attributes of kindness, sympathy, greed and avarice, and highlights the heights and depths, follies and foibles of the human experience, the news media has given it much coverage, and the three parties have appeared as guests on various TV programs.
The purported original story was that although the relationship between the parties began amicably, as happens so often when money is involved, it soured fairly quickly. Bobbitt, who received temporary housing and drug rehabilitation, became homeless again, and continued to be addicted to drugs, and he accused McClure and D’Amico of stealing funds from him.
Problems arose when McClure and D’Amico apparently dealt cavalierly with the funds contributed for Bobbitt. The couple’s initial story was that because Bobbitt lacked the relevant identification documents required, a bank account could not be opened in his name, so they placed the funds in their account. The couple also stated that the funds were placed in trust accounts for Bobbitt, but apparently that never happened. The couple also purchased Bobbitt a new camper, but they purchased it in McClure’s name. The camper was placed on McClure family property. Although the couple did release some funds to Bobbitt, they allege that he used most of the money to buy drugs and refused to enter a drug rehabilitation facility. D’Amico also stated that he “borrowed” $500 of the donations to gamble, but stated that he returned the amount from his “winnings.” Bobbitt is alleging that the couple purchased an expensive car, took a number of vacations they most likely could not have afforded, and that D’Amico is a gambler. He believes they used the GoFundMe.com money to live their enhanced lifestyle.
This entire story fell apart as a court appointed lawyers to protect Bobbitt’s interests, and an investigation began. It appeared that all three of the players were in cahoots with each other from the beginning, spinning a false story, which disintegrated into three separate versions, placing blame on each other. When I originally wrote of this incident, I pointed out that the parties would have benefitted from legal advice and that McClure and D’Amico should have immediately relinquished control of the funds to be used by and for Bobbitt’s well-being. That advice still stands.
The repercussions from this situation constitute quite a fall from grace given McClure’s and D’Amico’s possible original intention to be good Samaritans. Unfortunately, but not necessarily surprising, people who suddenly find themselves with access to a large amount of unexpected money give in to the vagaries of greed and avarice.
So what are the value lessons of this story? There are three:
- In our social media culture, where everyone and everything is placed under a microscope, if funds are raised for a purpose, they should be used for that purpose.
- In America, people have the freedom to live the life they want with limited oversight, and just because a drug addict does not change his stripes does not mean he is not entitled to funds raised on his behalf.
- Possibly no good deed goes unpunished.
In this instance, perhaps there was not a good deed even done.