People know nothing about me, even though I have been on CM since inception.
I was raised as an Orthodox Jew with a very strict upbringing. However, I am also the survivor of a 3 day kidnapping and rape scenario where I fled for my life.
Things were never the same and I dropped out in 9th grade. I tried to deal with issues through aggressive in-line skating. I dumped my anger in sports and became pro for NISS and amateur for the ASA. I also ended up injured in competition and unable to skate after.
After my injury, I lost my first job working at a record store and as a result, was also thrown out of home.
This is how I came across a wonderful Catholic nun, sister MC (abbr) who made a tremendous impact on my life. I was allowed to live with sister MC on terms that I helped clean the house, take care of the animals she sheltered, and prepared for the GED.
This not only fueled a love for animals, but helping those around me. After receiving my high school diploma within a few months, I tried to return home to start college.
This was a no-go, as I was again thrown out so a man my mother was dating could move in (my parents had gotten divorced a few years prior).
This time, I had nowhere to go; so at the age of 24, I slept on the streets of Manhattan.
There are a lot of things I wish I could re-do. I've been angry for a long time, but my biggest regret has been not being able to finish my degree.
My days consisted of not really sleeping, but napping. Trying to spange for enough money to get some form of transportation, showering and changing clothing at a local drop-in center and asking restaurants if they had any leftover food they could spare.
I remember hoping the local bakery would leave bagels in separate trash bags for the homeless in our immediate area, and hoping the people at Barnes & Nobles wouldn't say anything about all the reading/napping I did in the store.
Most of the homeless youth hung around Union Square and it's there that I ran into an old Vietnam Vet that was a tad schizophrenic named Bob. He offered me and a few others a place to stay. It was Winter and the streets were cold. An emergency blanket doesn't go far in those conditions. Bob offered us a conditional stay. We had three months to better ourselves and pull ourselves out of homelessness. After this point, we would be thrown out if we couldn't make it.
Shoving six unruly adults, into a 2BR apartment, in the projects, wasn't the most ideal situation, but neither was sleeping on a concrete bench because the shelters were overcrowded. Or walking four miles to a soup kitchen only to find out the food was gone by the time you got in line, for that matter.
I recall having to use Bob's blow dryer to dry my hand washed clothing and the disgusting roaches that were ingrained in everything because he had hoarding issues.
I also recall discovering that some of the people in our group were literal crackheads and that one of them was a convicted felon wanted for murder...I remember being threatened with having my throat slit, but I still tried to stay positive and work on a way out.
For the record: I have never done drugs or alcohol.
I was always very proactive about trying to find work; even through homelessness and it paid off. I obtained a job making $6.25 at a local movie theater. My checks were barely enough to cover bus fare, so I just walked the 2 miles to and from work daily.
The Postal Service album came out around this time. Bob had a little CD player and I bought the album so I could have some tunes to listen to...The District Sleeps Tonight was my favorite song, particularly because I related to the lyrics so much.
I'll wear my badge
A vinyl sticker with big block letters
Adherent to my chest
That tells your new friends
I am a visitor here: I am not permanent
And the only thing keeping me dry is where I am
You seem so out of context
In this gaudy apartment complex
A stranger with your door key
Explaining that I am just visiting
And I am finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving
Bob did have one other rent requirement: We had to spange enough money to buy him smokes and beer. He served this country and then served us with an opportunity though.
I'm not complaining...after all...that's pretty cheap rent if you ask me.
On minimum wage I didn't get far, but I did manage to obtain a room after searching. I was the only one who made Bob's deadline.
I used to fix and repair computers that people threw away and bring them to Bob's house. From there I found out about a local computer enthusiast meeting and as soon as my circumstances allowed, I went to one and met a lot of really wonderful people.
Moving into a little room set me free...I was able to obtain a better paying job of $7 instead of $6.25 and within that home I made friends. I moved to a different state because a friend needed a roommate, so they could work on their master's thesis in mathematical theory. He also helped me get into college.
I studied my ass off that year and I knew just how important this was - hell the ladies at the financial aid office were rooting for me. I didn't disappoint...I pulled off a damn near perfect GPA my first year.
The people I met through my roommate were engineer's who literally created some of the changes people see and use in their every day homes today. Interestingly enough, prior to all of this mess - I went to a Yeshiva and that little bit of education helped me a ton in college.
Eventually my roommate was done with his work and moved out, so I obtained an apartment and grabbed a roommate of my own.
My best and worse mistake was meeting my ex. We met online, which was already a bad choice but adding insult to injury, I drove 3,000 miles to discover he was an alcoholic. I tried to make things work for a little while under the assumption that he drank because he saw his daughter die.
He lied. He gave up his parental rights after she was born, but I was duped into believing a lie. I had just found out I was pregnant however.
He stopped drinking for a while and I thought things might have been possible. After my daughter's birth he ran off and married someone who completely financially supported him.
My daughter's life had just begun.
I tried to actively involve him in DD's life, but he never cared. He has managed to dodge child support for 6 years now and hasn't peeped any interest in DD's life. He can't even remember her birthday...He stole my car and left to California for the most part, eventually parking in Arizona.
I sold everything I worked so hard for and had to start over from scratch. This time, I was allowed to return home, so I took the opportunity to work part-time, continue college full-time and take care of DD.
Outside of homelessness for a period of 2 mos, I applied for benefits but was denied all of them. I was making $8.25ph part-time. Make a long story short, I had taken out a very small loan for college and was making payments on it until I couldn't find someone to watch DD one night and lost my job when I tried to see if someone would fill in.
That's around the time that I met my boyfriend now: DD was 2 years old by this point and I was about to start my last year of school. Unfortunately, because I lost my job, the loan defaulted and all of my financial aid for the 4 classes I was taking were pulled with it.
I still have 2 years worth of college credits that are locked until I can find a way to pay $10,000.00 to my old school.
I decided to move to Ohio with my BF, and three years ago DD was diagnosed with a speech impediment and Autism. This eventually led to a lot of speech and occupational therapy; on top of special education.
reapplied for benefits out here after my seasonal position was over and
did obtain them this time. They require that I do 86 hours of volunteer
work, 43 hours of online "course work."
If you want to talk about waste, talk about the online requirement that does absolutely nothing but teach high school level math and English to someone who was an honors student in college. Even though I brought in my high school diploma and scored advanced on all pre-tests, I'm still forced to do this requirement irregardless.
My 86 hours consists of working in a Goodwill warehouse where I have to do things like put certain amounts of tiny screws into bags. They also contain the option of signing up for specific courses (like the cooking class I decided to take a month ago for certifications).
Many people were denied a slot to get into this class and it's not a requirement.
My boyfriend has worked at his job for three years and only received a 0.25 cent raise and now with cut hours. The assistance I get literally gets my share of the rent paid and his family pays for our Internet bill and helps with various things. We don't have a phone, television, or any luxuries most people seem to be so adament about telling people like me have. My daughter was very lucky to receive a scholarship at a local private Jewish school.
ok, I'll succeed
without your help.
You can spit numbers and economic statistics and tell me how $11 isn't going to make a difference in my life. Except that when you have to manage every penny you have, that's definitely not the case.
Yet somehow, people feel the need to behave in an elitist fashion and tell me they understand my situation more than I do...
To call me stupid because I refuse to give up the remaining pride on an online website, because I do it every single day of my life.
I've yet to run into many of these fraudulent people constantly being spoken about on here and I'm at the county office daily.
have been working hard to get myself out of poverty, but it's not easy. I
have food stamps, cash assistance and benefits
and still, we struggle. There were times when I felt like just
giving up and I'm glad I haven't.
Here's the kicker: If I miss 20 minutes of online time, that's grounds for a sanction and a full removal of all benefits for months. I do hear the stories of women who have gone into the emergency room because of serious medical complications and the system simply doesn't give a shit.
I did get my certification though and that small step up will make a difference for me. It's not the end of the road - in fact, it's just the beginning, but I refuse to lose hope or give up in my struggles. I discovered a real passion for something and have many ideas on how to work towards my goals now.
I see women write horrible things about people like me daily.
may be financially poor but I am not a drug addict, cheating the system,
uneducated, or ignorant of my situation/mistakes in life. I am not
bothered by the need to classify me as trashy because I know you don't
walk in my shoes, nor I yours.
I don't know what your struggles are, but I'm sure you've had some of your own as well. If you want to be sour, I'd be more than happy to supply you with some sugar.
After all..that's pretty cheap rent if you ask me.
Update: I just got a job as soon as my classes were done! I start tomorrow! I can't wait!