In early February, I received an email from a producer from the show, “Going From Broke,” now in its second season of filming. Backed by Executive Producers Ashton Kutcher, Dan Rosensweig of Chegg and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, the producer, Laura deNey of Flicker Filmworks, asked if the global, grassroots, volunteer-led mutual aid organization I founded, Pandemic of Love, could help one of the deserving families from their upcoming season who have an extenuating circumstance: their 2-year-old son was born with Sickle Cell Anemia, a genetic disorder that disproportionately affects African Americans. I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and began to mobilize our organization’s close to 1.5 million person platform of donors, volunteers and families who have previously been benefactors.
The premise of the show, “Going From Broke,“ is to assist young people drowning in massive student debt by getting them strategic advice and help with a game plan from financial experts. Enam and Carlin Jordan, parents of three boys in North Carolina, have massive student loans, yes, but the producers realized that the reason they could not get a handle on their debt is because they spend between $2,000 to $3,000 per month on medical treatments for their middle child, “Baby” Carlin.
A Cure for Carlin Jr.
Sickle Cell Disease is a blood disorder affecting over 100,000 Americans that can cause severe pain, infection, organ damage and other debilitating health problems. But Sickle Cell has a known cure — a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant from a genetically matched donor. Carlin and Enam’s youngest son, six-month old Caiden, is a match and can be a donor for his older brother — but the health insurance industry in the United States still considers this procedure to be an “elective procedure” and will therefore not cover the almost $40,000 fee to conduct the transplant.
Many advocates, from both sides of the political spectrum and from a diverse range of ethnicities, have been lobbying for health insurance companies to change their stance on this and pointing to the undercurrent of systemic and institutional racism within the healthcare industry that is driving these decisions, considering a large majority of individuals affected by this disease are Black.
The producers and financial experts who host “Going From Broke” realized that in order to truly help the Jordan family with their debt, they would need more than a strategic plan — they would need to come up with a way to cure Baby Carlin and give the family some breathing room — both financially and emotionally.
Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma
Like most of their neighbors in their small town in North Carolina, 2020 was a challenging year. The pandemic hit the Jordan family especially hard when Carlin, a city code enforcement officer, contracted the virus and unknowingly brought it home to his family. Baby Carlin’s young little body was already at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications due to his Sickle Cell Disease. He contracted the virus and became very sick, and had to be hospitalized. Though his mom Enam is no stranger to hospital visits for her son, she said this time was emotionally terrifying for the family.
Both Enam and Carlin came from families who dealt with poverty and a variety of difficult circumstances, but were both determined to break that cycle. As youth pastors in their local church, they value community and faith. Giving back to the community through service work is a calling for them. Enam has always connected with young people, and Carlin knew early in his life that he wanted to be the mentor and role model to young people that he didn’t have growing up.
The Jordans have always been determined to break what they call “a generational curse.” They were both the first in their families to go to college, with Carlin having earned two degrees. After they fell in love and got married, they bought a home and have already created a better life for themselves, their kids and their whole community.
The Big Reveal
Within three weeks, the Pandemic of Love community was able to mobilize our supporters and raise the $40,000 needed to underwrite the cost of the bone marrow transplant that Baby Carlin needs to be cured. Donations for the family ranged from $5 to $5,000, coming from over 300 individuals donated, including former Pandemic of Love families who were recipients of aid from the organization looking to “pay it forward.” “Going From Broke” invited meand the network of donors to be a part of the surprise reveal to the Jordan family on a video conference call on Wednesday, April 21st.
I was so honored that we could do this for the Jordan family and continue as an organization to prove that love and kindness can go viral, too. Carlin and Enam were floored and emotionally overwhelmed by the support from so many strangers who cared enough to help their family. “Words cannot describe how blessed our family has been by this generous and selfless donation,” said the couple. Because of the actions of Pandemic of Love and Going From Broke, our lives and the life of our child has been changed forever. We truly can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done.”
Tune in to watch the second season of Going From Broke which premiered on May 20th only on Crackle. You can meet the Jordans in a short clip here, and their full show was released on May 27th, with the Pandemic of Love moment as the emotional climax.
To support families like the Jordans, and to help change lives — even on a smaller scale — please visit pandemicoflove.com. If you need assistance with everyday essentials from groceries to utility payments, you can also visit the website to apply for help.