Giving Voice: JANE’S STORY

note: still visiting with Dad and Up a Creek, but wanted to send this on in the interim.

It’s just not going away, people. Joblessness & Homelessness is still an on-going reality.

Jane is a blogger-buddy of mine. She is an Everyday (American) Canadian*.

Like you. Like me.

This lady speaks candidly and with more courage than I ever could during our own between homes journey. Her journey-details differ from our own, but the pattern is rote: no job – no home. The experiences and feelings felt are similar if not the same in some instances.

I stand with you, Jane.

*written this way to conform to an already established tag in my tag cloud!

Life Changes-not so Young Any More

by- Jane of janesheartsong

Jane of janesheartsong

Jane of janesheartsong

I  am getting older. I used to be able to work hard and give a lot of time and energy. Now even a smaller workload wears me out. At my last job in women’s retail clothing, I used to joke that I got paid so little that I might end up homeless, but at least I would be well-dressed.

Well, here I am. Homeless but well-dressed.Not yet a senior, I have fallen into the cracks somewhat. I was in so much pain that all I could do was go home after work and go to bed.I quit my job,with the intention of finding a new one. I managed to pay my rent with money from the insurance company pay-out when my car was damaged and written off. I used up  savings, and an income tax return. The only trouble was the money didn’t quite come in at the right time and my rent checks bounced. Add NSF fees and the debts soon piled up.It doesn’t take long when you live paycheck to paycheck, infact things happen very quickly. Communication was poor, intentions were misinterpreted, and checks for assistance were held back because some small detail was missed..My rent was late three months in a row. I got evicted.

In retrospect, I went to the doctor after I quit my job, long after.Not a smart move. I did not know the language or how to advocate for my needs. I said I was in pain, that I hurt all over, not too specific.After running out of money,nagging the doctor,and taking a document from social services for a medical note, I started to make progress.It was decided “to look into things further.” I had to get a diagnosis in order to justify writing a medical note for sick benefits. Magic words.

I have moderate arthritis in both knees and one hip and mild arthritis in one knee.I am not severely handicapped but it limits me.I now have a reason for quitting my job, the pain, a diagnosis.But what a battle to get there! Due to seemingly endless red tape, trips back and forth to government workers,doctors and employers for missing records of employment,bad timing and decisions on my behalf, I ended up losing my apartment and all of my furniture.

I have lost all my furniture because there was neither anyone to help me move the larger items nor any place to store it.I worked hard to buy that furniture, and yes, worked hard to hang onto it the last move I made just nine months ago.I have lost my belongings at least  three times in the last ten years and really didn’t feel like I had another move in me, let alone the energy to rebuild.I got lots of art materials that stand dormant because I don’t have the space to store it properly and use it.There is lots that I need to let go of, yet I would like some money for these items. I never seem to find time to sell stuff, what usually happens is I eventually get fed up and give it away.

My thing are packed. I have been staying on my friend’s couch the past week and am ready to go to the next place. I have applied for some jobs. I will be going to the doctor again to get a specific date for return to new work.. I have gone to the employment centre to clarify what documents they want in order to grant me sick benefits.I was told that Social Services would pay for my damage deposit but I didn’t find a place to live and now I am not on Social Assistance because Employment Insurance kicked in (3 months after I applied).

My wages have not gone up in relation to the cost of living. My last  job in retail paid less than what I made 12 years ago. I can no longer work in home care or other service positions -my body just can’t keep up the pace.Apartments and rooms have gone up in price, with a bachelor starting anywhere from $850 to $1,000.a month and a one bedroom averaging from $1200 to over $2,000. Yes, you can find them a lot cheaper, but they are few and far between or often bug and mold-infested.I am not old enough to qualify for most senior’s accommodations.But there are some that I do qualify for and I will check them out.

So what is my point here? I am not making a plea for money,no not at all. I don’t want your pity,does me no good. Maybe I am venting to release my own self pity and anger-I have been SO angry and have at times hit the depths of despair.I am going to have to give up a lot and the struggle is not over yet. I still have hope, although feelings of fear and rage and faith have ebbed and flowed like waves on a stormy sea.

I may not be able to post my photo blogs as I will not have access to computers that allow me to upload photos.That’s tough.My creative juices feed my soul.

One step at a time, one day at a time, I will get through this.I am asking that people be compassionate toward those in trouble,because, as Oprah said many years ago,most of us are just one paycheck away from homelessness.We are not all lazy bums but we could get that way It is always tempting to give up.

I am older.It is harder.this is nothing new in our society and with the economy on a downward ebb,it is going to get worse for a while. If I haven’t lost you by now, here are some suggestions for readers to ponder , because we all know someone who is going through difficult times.:

Instead of  just saying you’ll pray for someone or wish them good luck, DO something.Simply making a promise to pray for someone or to wish them good luck is so empty .

Share a couch with a friend for a week.

Help them look for a place.

Offer to help with a move

Help with packing and taking stuff to charity because they need to let go of stuff.

Take them out for a meal or coffee

Be with them.Talk. Listen.

Be realistic and clear about boundaries around  what you are able to give or not give regarding expectations, time, food.

Thank you for listening.It helps.Hopefully this will help someone else that is going through the process of just trying to get some help changing their job.

My next post will be on the topic of gratitude.Hopefully I will get out in nature and take some photos. Till then.

8 thoughts on “Giving Voice: JANE’S STORY

  1. Ellen Hawley

    Can I add one thing to Jane’s list? Push for a system that will support people when life falls apart–that lets them get back on their feet. Yes, we should all be helping individually when we can, but that’s not enough.

    Okay, I’m off the soapbox now.

    Reply
    1. laura bruno lilly Post author

      It’s okay to stay on our shared soapbox, Ellen – Thanks for your input!

      I think part of the problem (in the USA at least) is that there is this misconception about some ‘strong’ and reliable safety net. Many call it ‘welfare’…but it in fact is 100% useless for practical living situations.

      One very easy thing to do is to make the process of eviction/foreclosure slower (or something else?) when otherwise dependable & responsible tenants/homeowners come across a hard patch in jobs, health, etc. It does no-one any good to have empty rental units/owner homes while their former occupants are left with nowhere else to live in the meantime…..it’s easier to play catch up and stay in the game with a primary place of residence than what is the current status quo way of dealing with economic changes in the workplace and how it effects individuals, families, etc.

      Of course, banks (those in power) don’t see it that way at all….even when their accumulated foreclosed properties decay & degenerate during prolonged vacancy…

      Reply
  2. Lulu

    Thank you for what you do to bring awareness to these difficult issues. Sometimes, I think it is hard for people (including myself) to face issues like homelessness and joblessness because we are all just one pink-slip, one diagnosis, one accident, one twist of fate or circumstance, away from being in similar situations, and it is hard to accept that vulnerability. It is easier to just ignore it, but that does not solve any of the problems around us, doesn’t actually protect us from bad things happening, and only keeps us all isolated and suffering.

    Reply
  3. L. Marie

    Thank you for sharing Jane’s story. I can relate to it, having been unemployed and currently having a difficult time finding a job. Which means bills do not get paid.
    Jane, I agree with your list, though I can and do pray for others. But I get what you mean. People in desperate need don’t need words. They need action. They don’t need lectures about what they should do.

    Reply
  4. Bob Cloud

    Prayers already said from this station Jane, with more coming. Very sorry for your situation. It’s obvious you are strong and tough so I know you will prevail.
    Bob

    Reply

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