This is an update to my last diary and all the wonderful support, friendship and beauty granted me by everyone here at Daily Kos.
As most know, I'm a long-term unemployed person that was within days of homelessness but through your grace, that reality was erased. And changed into hope for a better future, through acceptance of my own humanity.
I also have been shown an abhorrent side of our current "Social Safety Network" that is commonly called Social Services. I'm still reeling from the outrageous behaviors of one Case worker, just 13 hours ago.
But know there is always a blessing when one truly needs it. This simple truth has been revealed to me once again by all of you. And don't forget, every story has a silver lining!
UPDATE: After finally sleeping for 4 hours, I've come back to this diary and read a lot of the comments. I was extremely tired and stressed the past couple weeks. I copied and pasted my actual letter that will be sent out Tuesday morning. I am removing the persons name I mentioned out of respect to all here. Thank you for having patience with me.
This was my day today at Social Services, understand that this is the actual letter that will be sent to the Commissioner Of Social Services here in Buffalo this coming Tuesday. I'm may also send it to my Senators and Congress persons.
July 2, 2010
Dear Commissioner Dankert:
My name is Gerri *******, I have been applying for Social Services this past week due to Congress' failure to extend unemployment benefits. Seeking help through a very desperate and difficult time in my life. I was on my fourth visit in as many days, at your Facility hoping for some tangible and compassionate services to prevent my world from completely being destroyed. I was scheduled to see a Ms. G. on the third floor at 10:30am this morning.
I must regretfully inform you of the hostile, threatening and the utter shameful disregard for my own humanity, that a Ms. G. displayed towards myself.
This is what happened:
Ms. G. was going through my filled out paperwork and started asking me questions while reviewing my written responses. She asked for my driver's license to verify it. I asked her if she would like a copy of it, that I had made three copies of all of my identification documents for your convenience. She said, "No, we have your license already." I asked, "How is this possible?" She said, "When you applied before you gave it to us."
A bit confused and surprised that my personal identification was in the hands of someone I never met before, I asked again, "How did you get my driver's license?" Ms. G. stated, "FOR THE 50TH TIME, WHEN YOU APPLIED BEFORE!"
I was taken back at this abusive response and asked her if she was having a bad day. She never answered my question. I sat there thinking, trying to rack my brain. I could not for the life of me, remember ever applying for Social Services. What was she talking about? HEAP? I didn't know. Who was this woman that had my personal information prior to me ever meeting her? Who else has access to my driver's license? Without my knowledge or permission?
I then asked her name and asked her for the name of her supervisor. She said, "He's out today, there isn't a supervisor available." I asked again, "Could you tell me his name?" She said something, as I was looking for a piece of paper to write it on and I didn't catch it. So, I asked her how to spell it and she said, "Just like Champagne!" I looked at her again, and she reluctantly spelled it out for me as I wrote it down on my piece of paper.
I then asked her, "When was it that I was last here?" and she, "I don't know, I'd have to look it up." I said, "Okay?" She looked me up on the computer and said, "Eleven years ago!" I asked, "You still have my identification from 11 years ago?" She replied, "Well yes! You got Food Stamps for 1 month, 11 yrs ago."
I tried to ask another question and she interrupted me saying, "LOOK, I'M DOING THE INTERVIEWING HERE, NOT YOU!"
She then said, "Do you want to end this interview? Because it's clear you don't want to continue!" I said, "You're kidding right? What's wrong with you?" She mumbled something that I did not catch.
I was in utter shock. I decided that I should record it, (as in write down), what was being said and I proceeded to do so. She was impatient with my writing and pushed a piece of paper in front of me and told me to sign and date it. I continued to write, I was not finished yet. She said, "LOOK I'M NOT GOING TO SPEND THREE HOURS INTERVIEWING YOU, WHILE YOU WRITE THINGS DOWN! I HAVE OTHER CASES TO TAKE CARE OF!"
I went from shock to bewilderment at this anger and hostility. She just wouldn't stop. I stopped what I was writing and looked up at her and thought "she wants me to walk out, she doesn't want to help me." Then she wrote something in the area on the form that I filled out 3 days prior, it was page 13 of your 18 page packet. I asked, "What are you writing? Can I see it?" She replied, "NO, if you can write things, so can I, and it's none of your business!"
A bit shaken, I finally read the form she had just handed to me and I signed it and handed it back to her. She continued to speak to me as if I wasn't really there. So, I continued my written record of what was going on. I barely even heard what it was she was saying. It was clear the questions or dialogue wasn't for me. Some, "procedure" that she had to follow.
I got less than three sentences written at this point and realized she was asking me something. I looked up and I finally caught what it was she was saying and talking about. What I must do to receive any help or cash assistance and then she handed me a form. She stated, "you must come up with a plan to survive" and "how was it that I've survived this long without any income."
I reviewed said form and put in the spaces provided, "get a job." Further down it asked why I was no longer receiving the funds or resources I had previously. I wrote, " Republicans, after spending $7 Trillion dollars over the past 8 yrs, have now decided that our deficit is too high and they have filibustered any and all unemployment extensions."
Ms. G. read what I wrote and said, "You know what I think? I'm glad they didn't extend it, you've gotten it long enough."
I almost had a stroke at that moment. I could not believe she just said that to me. I looked at her and said, "Look, Reagan extended unemployment for 3 years, but now it's too long? I'd take any job, no one wants to hire an experienced manager." She then replied, "I know hundreds of people that can go out and get a job immediately."
I tried to tell her of the one interview I had in the past 17 months, where they were only offering a part-time cashiers position and before I could finish, she interrupted me saying, "Well, it's better than what you have NOW isn't it?" Her tone was contemptuous and indignant. Her implication was clear, I didn't want to work or find a job!
I went from bewilderment to anger, I told her, "LOOK, I WOULD TAKE ANY JOB, EVEN IF IT'S PART-TIME! I'D WORK THREE JOBS TO GET MY BILLS PAID. I did when I was in College! You think that I want to be in this position? I'd do any work if it was offered to me! For the past 30 yrs I've worked my way up the ladder and NOW because I did so, I'M BEING PUNISHED FOR IT! FOR GOD'S SAKE! I CAN'T GET A PART-TIME CASHIERS POSITION BECAUSE I'M OVERQUALIFIED! "
She interrupted me again, "I'M NOT GOING TO SIT HERE AND BE LECTURED BY YOU! I THINK THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER."
I said, "SO, YOU'RE ENDING THIS INTERVIEW?" She replied, "NO, YOU ARE!"
It was at this moment that one of her co-workers said, "Are you having a problem?" Ms. G. replied, "I WAS CONSIDERING CALLING THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT!" I turned back to her totally dumbfounded.
Not only did she abuse me, imply I was lazy and not deserving, she was going to have me removed when I tried to explain what has actually happened to me? She didn't want to hear the truth or the facts. She wanted me to accept her aggravated verbal assault AND say nothing!
I stood up and turned back to Ms. G. co-worker and tried to explain what she was doing, I was so upset at that moment I could hardly speak. I finally blurted out, "She's saying I'm lazy and don't deserve unemployment or any help for that matter."
I turned back around as Ms. G. was saying "I never said that, now you're calling me a liar!" And she proceeded to write more on page 13 of the form I submitted 2 days before, on the first floor.
I sat down and said nothing. So angry, upset, frustrated and bewildered at all that had just happened in less than 10 minutes. I was truly in shock. I couldn't think straight. Why was I here again? How did I get into this situation? I was almost in tears. I did my best to keep from actually crying, hiding them from Ms. G. I did not want her to know how badly she had just upset me. How bizarre and surreal her "interview" had been with me. My hands were trembling.
Ms. G. continued to say things to me and I really didn't catch what it was she was saying. I couldn't think. I asked her to repeat what she just said and she did, politely this time. She told me that I was entitled to $200 in Food Stamps and $389 or $385 a month in cash, and that was contingent upon me doing everything that the Employment Center required. I would not get any cash until August 15th, 2010 and it would only be half that amount, $194.50. I asked her "Why did the woman downstairs tell me only $72 in Food Stamps and $169 in Cash? She replied, "That's a different department, I don't know what their standards are."
I was totally confused, not only at the misinformation, but the shear arrogance and verbal assault that I was receiving at the hands of a Public Servant. I was thinking so many thoughts, all at once. Feeling so many different emotions, I just sat there trembling, unable to say much more.
She handed me a plastic credit card and told me that I must go to another floor, be fingerprinted and have my picture taken and then return down to this floor and have the card activated where you will pick a pin number. She then said, "You'll know if the food stamps are there by 10am tomorrow, if not they won't be there until Tuesday after 6pm."
She said, "You're all done" and she proceeded to show me the way out because, "I don't want you to get lost leaving."
I told her to have a nice holiday and I then went to the 4th floor and got my picture taken and photographed. I asked for Ms. G. supervisor's name and for the commissioner's name. They were more than willing to give it to me and, in fact, the one woman said to her co-worker, "We should have that number on speed dial".
I returned to that floor and had the card activated and chose a pin number. I was still trembling and numb as I left. I don't even remember driving home at all. I was still confused when I walked into my home, asking myself, "How did I just get here?"
As you all can see, my morning was not very productive. I may or may not get approved for any Social Services. I don't even know if I will get any help at all. So be it!
But as I said, there's always a silver-lining. Karma's "great balancing act" came back to me just 20 short minutes later.
The doorbell rang and when I opened the front door, there was this big jolly man holding, the most beautiful basket full of so many wonderful things to greet me. I truly lost my composure at the sheer timing of it all. The darkest moment in my life and I was granted and blessed with such beauty. All the evil I had experienced was simply washed away. It's spell was broken and released.
That basket was from one of our very own, here at Daily Kos.
May God Bless you Rubthorn, you saved my life!
Here is a picture for all to share:
I got an email from an Employment Coordinator here in Buffalo that saw and read my diary yesterday. He said that he primarily works with the refugee community but he thought he might be able to help me get a job or into a "re-training program. And if he couldn't, he thought that one of his many contacts might!
I stand here today, as a testament, to the miracles everyone here created for me.
Another 30 days rent paid, food for at least a week and possibly a job.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July! I know that I will because of all of you!