I view it much like I view the word "burden", a word used by someone who just wants to slam the door on others rather than attempting to understand who might be knocking. Words that are used to judge another without walking in their shoes.
Guess I am extra sensitive this week. It's been one of those weeks where the weight of the world has been placed on my shoulders - it doesn't help that I have a cold that seems to want to hang on....in other words..I feel crappy.
Anyway, I read that word, "needy", on my local radio station's website and in their Question of the Week - they were asking if area organizations , churches, and agencies were doing enough for the "needy"...
Now, to remind you, this would be the very same radio station where last year when I reached out to them to help address the homeless issue in our community, the station owner sent me an email where he told me "we don't look for dogs that aren't lost" ...words to the extent.
So needless to say when I read that this morning I had to fight the urge to scream.....not an easy task after the week I've had.
A week that started off with waiting to hear from a young girl, just turned 18, to see if she would be moving into my home. I had met with her in the previous week - she was homeless and on her own. She had been staying with others...couch hopping...so she could attend school and work.
The referral came in last week and from someone who worked in the school she was attending. What do you do with someone in that situation? Our little volunteer organization, Lend a Hand, is not equipped to provide long term housing or support. We barely have enough to provide emergency shelter...a motel stay... to homeless..and now we had a young woman who survived a tragic childhood, and who was trying to make it in life - she needed a long term commitment.
So, I offered her a room in my home. It came with ground rules such as a need to transfer to the local district, no alcohol or drugs used in my home, and counseling - Rules that I needed to issue and enforce because I also have two children in the home of my own who need a stable environment...well, at least as stable as a single mom can make it.
This all was going on as once again the phone for Lend a Hand was getting more calls from those in dire situations....one woman who in about a month would be without housing, and whose only income amounted to about $450, another woman who was scared she and her husband who recently had a stroke, would be soon evicted. Her husband, at the time of his stroke, had no health insurance...she had been the only income...an adequate one she told me, but after the stroke she needed to stay home to care for her husband. The couple was in a position where they didn't qualify for services as they didn't have have dependent children, and they weren't "old" enough for services for the elderly. He can't apply for SSDI until 6 months after the stroke....winter is barreling in...
Again, another situation of what do you do? This wasn't going to be a short term commitment, the wife had already called every agency we would have referred her to...they all told her to call us.
Then there was the young woman who was pregnant and who we had provided shelter to...I couldn't go see her because of this cold...I didn't want to get her sick. She is due to give birth and then what? Another long term need. One of our volunteers was able to find a shelter in another county that would provide services and housing....but, because life is what it is, the girl turned it down. She also had some people from another organization helping her out at the same time.....
Those were the calls I handled this week....it doesn't include the ones our other volunteers who answer the phone, were handling.
Meanwhile, it's the end of the month - the roughest time for my own situation. I quite literally survive on pennies during this time of the month - and I work - I have a roof.
I kept having a flashback to a conversation I had this summer with a special person in my life. It was during a time when life was in an out of control spiral and I was nearing a burn out. He gave me good advice, even though I didn't want to hear it. That I needed to focus on my own situation, my own needs and stop trying to save the world. Which for the most part I do - but I also know to do what he said meant that I need to make a drastic move in my life - I need to move from this area and back to a metro area where when I have car problems, there's public transportation - where my children have somewhere to go, like a center of sorts, if I need to work two jobs to survive - where there were jobs that paid a living wage, rather than living in a high unemployment area and the jobs that are here pay ...if you're lucky...$9.00 an hour to start - I made more than that over 20 years ago when I worked as an administrative assistant. And then when you find that low wage job, if you've been on any assistance, you lose them....and actually have less than you did before that job - I know that's hard to understand for some unless you've experienced it, but it's true -it all depends on your situation.
But even to make that drastic move would mean to sell this house that is literally and figuratively falling in around me...and good luck doing that - or walk away from it with nothing, no money in the bank, and trying to relocate somewhere else with a van packed of my belongings and totting two kids.
Yeah, right...sure ...whatever. ...
One thing did come of that conversation, I did give up one of my volunteer efforts...and I tried to walk away from the other - but easier said than done.
So flashbacks to that conversation, while I waited to hear from that young lady and while I was counting those pennies as I was trying to figure out some answers for those other callers and while working to provide for my kids...
I am just one of the volunteers out there -there are so many more who are also dealing with their own situations in this crappy economy -volunteers in our organization....other organizations...and then people who do what they can on their own.... there are so many stories to tell -so many lives attempting to live through this - so many questions on what is the right thing to do - but the answers are not as simple as they seem.
The girl ended up doing what I expected, turning down the offer to basically couch hop - she had her reasons - ones that are not for me to disclose - but I knew...deep down...that this is how it was going to turn out - she still needs to learn her lessons in life, much like the rest of us do until the day we die.
So, yeah, this morning I was a bit sensitive when I read that on the radio station's website - when I remembered that email from last year (he REALLY got pissed off at me when I forwarded it on to others) - that word jumped out at me..."needy" - a slap to the face to anyone struggling in this economy -