The Forum Scholarship Auction and the Support of an Internet Family
I have been in charge of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF, randi.org) Forum Scholarship Auction for The Amazing Meeting (aka “TAM”) for the past few years. It’s a fun auction, with donated items, that raises money for people that can’t afford to attend TAM.
TAM has often proven life changing. I know the first time I went, to the first TAM in Florida in 2003, it took me a bit to adjust to not having to watch what I said. I could openly joke about homeopathy. I could decry parents not vaccinating their children, and the fear it causes me as a teacher and parent. The luxury of just opening my mouth, and having someone nod in agreement and educate me even more about almost any topic, was something I knew I would never forget. Since then I have attended every TAM held in the US (9 so far), and after each one I have a slight post-TAM depression. I miss hearing world class skeptic thinkers. I miss late night talks with my online (and now real life) friends. I console myself with the books I’ve bought at TAM, and the memories and photographs.
The JREF forum is an online family for many of us. The support given by forum members over the years equates to that of any “real” family or church group. One member has ALS, who the forum has stepped up to help purchase needed computer equipment so he can communicate. Other forum members have had help finding jobs. Forum members have lost spouses and sadly even children, and the words and comfort expressed in online threads has been sincere and touching. Many skeptics miss the support of a church group, but through the JREF forum and through meetings like TAM, there is indeed skeptic fellowship.
Many forum members simply donate money. The forum auction is a way for people to contribute in a fun way. Knitted items (trust me we have some talented knitters), art work, books, food and signed items by James Randi are just some of the items that have been up for auction. Items are listed, some for sale others for bidding, and it lasts for a few months as things are sold and new items added. 100% of the money goes to the scholarship fund. People donate to help with shipping if they wish.
You don’t have to belong to the JREF forum to donate an item or to bid. You can reach me here if you have any questions. Also, scholarships are open to anyone. The forum has a valued member that has been trusted with the responsibility of dispersing the funds. High priority is given to those that have never been, students, or those with a real financial need, and people willing that perhaps just need a partial rather than full scholarship. However, I have nothing to do with any decisions!
I hope people will check out the site over the next few months. I have a lot of signed Randi memorabilia, up as I just got back from a visit with him. Every year Randi has to put up with me pulling out a stack of items and saying “OK, here is a pen. Start signing!” He rolls his eyes, but he knows I won’t stop bugging him until everything has his beautiful signature on it. His support of the auction is very much appreciated by not only myself, but by people get bid and win a bit of skeptic history and greatness. And of course, those who are able to attend a skeptical science conference!
Please check out the site, please bid or donate, and feel free to support skeptics going to TAM with just a donation of money if you wish. It really does change lives
- JREF Media Roundup, March 2, 2012 (randi.org)
- Friends and Flying Pigs (twodifferentgirls.com)
- My Top Posts of 2011: A Lesson Learned Again (skeptools.wordpress.com)
- Won’t you help us fight the fakers? (randi.org)