This video is a sample of the hate I experience from the general public on a daily basis. I am kept down in poverty with no hope or chance of ever having anything but homelessness.
This video is a sample of the hate I experience from the general public on a daily basis. I am kept down in poverty with no hope or chance of ever having anything but homelessness.
Last fall I began working for Amazon.com in one of their warehouses in Bellevue, Washington. It was an Amazon Fresh warehouse and the food delivery had really begun to take off, so much so the warehouse needed to move to a larger space. At the time of the move the company gave us the opportunity to move with them or to transfer to another area.
I chose to transfer to California where I have applied to enter a college program. In June of last year I was transferred to San Bernardino. The move to San Bernardino got off to a bad start right from the beginning. I was promised by Amazon to receive $3,000 in relocation money, enough money to move into an apartment. I was to receive the money with my first pay upon arriving. The money did not show up on my first paycheck and when I finally got them to pay me I only received half. The company told me this was due to my relocation pay being taxed as a bonus. This detail was never explained to me before I moved and should have been made clear. As a result of only receiving half of the relocation pay I was promised I could not afford an apartment.
Instead of moving into an apartment which would have cost first and last month’s rent plus a deposit, I had to try and make ends meet in an economy motel. I was not always able to afford to stay at the motel and sometimes had to sleep outside. The people I worked for gave me a hard time about my living arrangement, which was caused by the company. My co workers began to harass me for the entire 10 hour work day. Prior to the harassment my attendance was considered very good. Once the harassment began my attendance record began to suffer. I made several complaints to management and HR about the harassment. Amazon has a strict policy against harassment, according to them. I had a manager witness the harassment and began to give them specific names and details about the coworkers who were bothering me. I am Jewish and was the only Jew i knew of working at that particular warehouse. I let management know this as well. When my attendance continued to suffer I was fired.
I appealed the termination and had a meeting with the man in charge of the entire warehouse. He brought my attendance record with him into the meeting. He showed me how good my attendance was until a certain point. I told him that is when the harassment began. He made the decision based on all of the information that my termination should remain in place.
My last option was to go to the ethics committee. I told them my story and they told me they would give the information to someone at the warehouse. I told them the story of the man in charge of the warhouse and requested that the case be brought to HR outside of this particular warehouse. A man from regional HR called me and said he would look into my allegations. I eventually won my rehire eligibility back and was told that they would try to find me a job in the area in which I now live. That was months ago.
I have now been homeless since the company fired me in mid September. Human Resources knows that I am homeless and living in the cold this winter. I am left wondering why we allow companies to treat their employees this way. Amazon has to many class action lawsuits filed against them from former employees that going to an attorney will get one no where. All I did was follow company rules and the company let me down. I am now looked down upon in the community in which I live because Amazon is dragging its heels. These people probably bought most of their gifts from Amazon, the same company that does not care if it makes its employees homeless. So while Amazon will be bringing great joy to thousands of Americans this holiday season, I am living outdoors in the cold.
The United States has a homeless crisis. In the year 2000 it was estimated that nearly 3.5 million people were homeless and each year the numbers increase. In order to address this problem the way that non-profit agencies are structured needs to change. States need to decriminalize the state of being homeless as giving tickets and locking people up in jail does not fix the problem and rent control needs to be implemented.
After a long term relationship ended I was living in Denver and found myself in the situation of being homeless after not being able to pay the rent on my apartment. It was the first time I had to use social services and it was an eye opener into the world of poverty and homelessness. I never imagined I would end up in that situation having a master’s degree and a lot of work experience. But there I was and in that experience I learned a lot.
The first service I signed up for was food stamps. I was surprised that when one uses food stamps they are not allowed to purchase hot food. Apparently our government does not feel that the poor should be allowed to eat a warm meal, however one can buy a gallon of icecream. In Denver in order to be on food stamps one has to volunteer at a non-profit agency for a certain number of hours per month. I had no problem with that as I already volunteered at a food bank. However as I learned more about homelessness and the non-profit agencies serving them, the issue of volunteers has a downside which I will discuss later.
I volunteered at a food bank a couple of times a week. I served as a social worker in an office where I would see people before they got their food with any other services they may be in need of. I was in a unique position because I tried a lot of the services before recommending them to others. That is when I learned the horrible truth about non-profits set up to serve the homeless. I went to several agencies that promised help online or a pamphlet I had received. I would make an appointment with the agency and show up to the appointment on time or walk in depending on the agency. A volunteer, many of whom were food stamp recipients, would hand me a sheet of paper with the names, addresses and phone numbers of other agencies that would be able to help me. I would take the piece of paper to other agencies where I was greeted by a volunteer, again a food stamp recipient and handed another sheet of paper with names, addresses and phone numbers of other agencies who would be able to help me.
The only help most of the agencies gave me was to hand me a sheet of paper referring me to another agency, but I never actually received any help. I saw that most of these agencies were staffed with food stamp recipients and not social workers with master’s degrees on that subject. Actually most of the agencies I went to did not do much. I do know however from my master’s degree in management that non-profit agencies receive funding from the United States government and that funding is based upon the number of people served. Each time I went in and was given a sheet of paper with names and numbers of other agencies, that particular agency could mark me down as a person being served. The executives of these agencies were being paid salaries while the agencies themselves were staffed with food stamp recipients. The executives were being paid for doing nothing, and our government was paying them to do nothing. There is no incentive to get people off the street and back on their feet if employees of social service agencies are paid based on the number of people served. If they actually were successful at their job, they would lose their job. The homeless are sent around in circles from agency to agency and receive almost no help.
In Seattle I volunteered at my synagogue’s homeless shelter for women. I would drive a van downtown to pick them up at a shelter there to bring them back to the synagogue where they would spend the night. When I would enter the shelter downtown often the staff would be screaming at the top of their lungs at the homeless women. One time the police were there for some reason and one of them looked at me and said, “Oh my God!” The staff at places that serve the homeless need to be educated and trained and not to view their job as disciplinarians. The homeless are people not animals and should be treated as such. If the police are appalled you know it is bad.
If we restructure the way non-profits are funded there may be more incentive for these non-profits to serve the poor and homeless and help them get back on their feet and into housing. The people who serve the homeless need to be qualified social workers and not food stamp recipients who have no interest in helping the clients at a non-profit. Until this happens the number of homeless in cities all across the United States will continue to grow. We need to hold the agencies helping the homeless accountable for the services they are providing and to make sure their clients are not just given a piece of paper referring them to another agency, but that their agency actually does provide the help and services they advertise themselves as providing.
We as citizens, both wealthy and poor, need to demand from our government that the structure of non-profit organizations be changed. The wealthy do not want to see the homeless living on their streets and the homeless want homes, not pieces of paper referring them to another agency. Let 2018 be the year that the United States tackles its homeless crisis and becomes a model for other countries.
It’s that time of year again, the holidays. The holidays are full of excitement, extra activity and emotions run high and low. It is also the season of fattening food as there is always a reason to eat in the month of December. It is this time of year I pull out my running shoes and start running again.
The Benefits of Running
Running has many benefits. It does not matter how fast or slow one runs, the benefits to your health are many. The primary benefit is your heart. Take your resting heart rate before starting your running regime by sitting in a chair for a few minutes and then put your fingers to your neck and feel your pulse. Count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply it by 4. That is your resting heart rate. Take it again 2 weeks after running for at least 3 times per week. It should be a bit slower. Keep taking it and watch how your resting heart rate slows down. That is the most amazing thing running does for your body.
Second, running tones the muscles in your legs, abdomens and arms. One day a woman asked me what the bumps were in my legs. I replied, those are my muscles! A great way to prepare for wearing shorts in summer.
The best part of running is it reduces stress and anxiety. The holidays and just life in general can produce moments of great stress. After an hour of running the endorphins kick in and I feel like I can accomplish anything.
I live in southern California and run on a path with a view of the ocean. You can choose to run almost anywhere. Pick a place with beautiful scenery that maybe you would not ordinarily see or visit if it was not for a run. I personally run without music. It lets my brain focus on the scenery around me. While I am on a run I can mentally work through almost any problem in my life.
One thing that keeps me interested and dedicated to running is to set goals. I will challenge myself and sign up for a run in the future. I then spend time preparing for the run. I do not worry about how I will finish, but rather so that I will finish. As long as I cross the finish line I am happy.
Start small, sign up for a 5k. Once you are comfortable with that, push yourself to something farther. I never thought I would be able to run even a 5k and now I do so much more.
Eating healthy makes running easier, so without trying too hard I tend to naturally eat healthier when I am preparing for a race. I tend to focus on eating small meals several times a day as running can increase your appetite. I eat a lot of protein and fresh fruit and veggies. Protein keeps you full longer than carbs, although carbs are necessary to give you energy.
My next goal is a half marathon in June. Time to start preparing.
My relationship with Scotty ended one night at the Monkey Pub. I had gone there with Gina and Scotty. Gina got up to use the restroom and I was left at the table sitting across from Scotty. When we arrived I was in a good mood and happy. As I sat there watching him drink his beer that I knew was going to be the first of many, I thought to myself, “What am I doing? Do I want to spend the rest of my life with an alcoholic?” My answer to myself was, “No!” I looked across at him and said, “I don’t think this is working anymore.”
He asked, “What isn’t working?”
“So just like that it is over?”
There was ranting and raving about how I would regret it, how I would be alone. I reminded him of all the times I talked to him about getting himself help.
When Gina came back to the table I told her we needed to go.
Breaking up with a boyfriend who lives next door is not easy. He flaunted his relationship with Mary in front of me. I ignored it as much as possible. I won’t lie, it did make me a bit jealous. I kept telling myself it was for the best. I knew something bad was coming in the near future. He had begun drinking in the morning and it continued all day.
One Friday night Wally’s band was playing at the Vogue downtown. Gina, Rene, and I decided to go. We dressed up for the occasion and had fun listening to the bands. Scotty showed up and I tried to ignore that he was there. When it came time to go home we got a ride home with Stan in his cab. Scotty joined us and sat next to me. The entire ride home he kept telling me how he was still in love with me. I kept telling him he wasn’t. When we arrived home we all got out of the cab and Stan drove off. Scotty asked me to go home with him. I told him no. I walked into my house and made some tea before going to bed. I saw him sitting on his back porch pouting. I was tempted, but I stayed strong.
The next day I walked into his house. I had something to give to one of his housemates. There Scotty was sitting on the couch next to Mary. He followed me into the kitchen. I looked at him and shook my head. “That is why I did not go home with you last night.”
“It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Yes it does. I am not going through this anymore. I don’t want you to bother me anymore.”
A few weeks later I met Scott at Stan’s birthday party. I came home one evening to find Wally and Scotty in my living room. Wally looked at me and said, “Scott called.” Scotty looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Twice.” I looked at them both and thanked them and then went upstairs. I still loved him but I knew he would not change, ever.
Walking away from that relationship was the hardest thing I have ever done. He was on a downhill slide and I did not want to see the crash. A few months later he was dead. What I had been dreading happened a lot sooner than I expected.
I recently spoke with a young man who was going through a similar situation with his wife. She was addicted to heroine. I told him how I had to walk away because people on a downhill slide drag their partners right along with them. A few weeks later he came to me and told me he was moving back home to his home state. He was walking away from his wife whom he loved and her addiction. I told him he has a lot of courage to walk away. It is hard and painful to watch someone you love self destruct in front of your eyes. It takes great strength to do something about an addiction and those who have sone so should be admired. There is nothing to be done if they do not want to get help, all one can do is save themselves.
Political cartoon Monday
When it comes to harassment women have a hard time in getting the harassment to stop. The legal system does not have a system set up that would allow women peace of mind by legally forcing a harasser to stop. When we have a president who has committed offenses himself there is little hope.
For about 2 years I experienced unwanted harassment from a man and no one would do anything about it. I asked him nicely to leave me alone to his face at first. He agreed he would leave me alone and walked away. However the harassment did not end there. I ended up going to the police, my rabbis and members of the political organizations to which we both belonged. I was unable to get help from anyone. I ended up being treated like I was the one doing something wrong.
What is harassment?
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of harassment is: to annoy persistently,
to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.
Being Harassed at Synagogue
In my case my harasser would come to my synagogue and harass me during our Torah study and services. This happened at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, WA. I complained to a rabbi and office staff that this was taking place. They listened to me and did absolutely nothing, even though his harassment was witnessed by others and recorded on video. Instead I was treated as though I was a pain in the neck, I was unreasonable. Meanwhile the harassment continued.
The rabbis at Temple de Hirsch went along with the harassment and participated in some of it themselves. I wondered where in the Torah does it say that a congregant who only wants to go to synagogue to pray and attend services should be harassed. I wondered why religious leaders would teach others, especially young men, that it is ok to harass women if you do not like them because nothing will happen to you and all that will happen is that the victim will be humiliated and embarrassed in public. I felt I was being punished for standing up for myself.
The problem comes down to money. My harasser had a lot more money than I do, so he could do more to support the synagogue. His bad behavior would be overlooked because he donated a generous amount every year and apparently I do not matter at all. I feel I should have been able to attend synagogue without being harassed.
Using Legal Means to Stop Harassment
I tried using legal means to stop his harassment. I filed a restraining order. According to the court the police were unable to serve my harasser. I went to the appointed court date anyway. The judge was a man and has no sympathy for me. He laughed and said nothing would be done.
The Emotional Toll of Harassment
Constantly being harassed by someone you repeatedly ask to stop takes a huge toll on a person emotionally. First of all for someone not to heed your repeated requests for the harassment to stop has mental issues that need to be addressed. It makes a person feel unsafe to know that anywhere they go that person may show up. I felt like I was being stalked. Knowing no one would help me make him stop made me feel helpless and I began experiencing depression.
In the end it was one of the reasons I moved to California from Washington state. I think I have made the right choice as the women of Hollywood are fighting back. They are setting examples and being role models for other women who are experiencing unwanted harassment. The worst thing a woman can do is to be silent about abuse or harassment. No one should experience abuse or harassment and the culture is shifting to protect those who have become victims.
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