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Award Comes With a Price


Dear Harriette:

I was invited to receive an award for my 20 years of community service from a local organization, which was very flattering.

After I accepted, I learned that in order to get the award I am expected to give them a big check. I feel like this is graft, and I don't want to do it. While I would love to receive the honor, I can't afford to pay them for it, nor do I think I should have to.

How do you think I should handle this?

Cynthia, Los Angeles


I completely understand how you feel. The organization that offered to honor you should have told you from the beginning how they work. Yes, some organizations ask participants to contribute to their causes when they receive acclamation. Usually these requirements fall on honorary co-chairs or chairs of events, though, rather than honored guests.

Don't be ashamed. Instead, just be direct and honest. Thank them for wanting to give you an award, and say that while you would love to participate, you simply are not in a financial position to be able to meet their requirements. Leave the ball in their court. If they truly want you, they will probably come back and offer the award to you - no strings attached.

Dear Harriette:

I am a male who lives as a female. Recently, a close girlfriend of mine, Christina, asked if I would participate in her wedding as a bridesmaid.

I'm thrilled and honored, but also a bit concerned. Although most everyone in our circle of friends knows of my status, I'm worried how her friends and family who don't know me, will react.

I would rather avoid any trouble. I brought up my concerns with Christina, but she insists that she wants me there as a bridesmaid. What should I do?

Michelle, New York


As inclusive as Christina is being with you, she doesn't seem to be thinking fully about the big picture.

Yes, some family members and friends probably will be uncomfortable about your role in the wedding. More important, though, by putting you "on display," she may be drawing more attention to you than you will feel comfortable having on her wedding day.

You should not become the center of attention by default. Rather than simply being able to support your friend on her day of great joy, you may find yourself having to defend yourself before people who are judgmental about your role.

Thank Christina for the invitation and ask her if you can serve in a less visible role during the wedding where you don't have to be front and center.

United Feature Syndicate Send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com.

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