Striving to Become Self-Sufficient and End Our Homelessness
Revised Page Message and goal, as of 1 September 2012:
For quite some time pride has kept me from revealing to a great number of my friends the struggle to just survive, but have reached a point where I have no choice but to humbly request assistance in keeping us afloat while we cope with being officially homeless.
Several years ago I started having health issues, keeping me from finding or keeping jobs in my field of expertise (I have a bachelor's degree in management, specializing in process improvement). I have also been dealing with the family court system, as a result of my son's father's abusive behavior.
Having lost my insurance in 2007, getting a disability claim started was not possible until recently, although we now have Medicaid, which as led to the long-overdue discovery that I have a debilitating form of inflammatory arthrits called ankylosing spondilytis, in addition to the fibromyalgia that was diagnosed in 2006. Through it all, I've managed somehow to keep things afloat, until now, as we are in a shelter for the time being.
Since last year I have been working freelance or telecommuting jobs, but have hit a dry spell since February. I haven't had a car in over two years:I've cut expenses to the bare minimum to make survival more realistic, but today I find that just isn't enough. I am humbled, embarrassed, and scared about having to reach out to you all in this way, but for my son I will do anything I can to keep struggling to make things better.
I have checked every possible source of charitable assistance, but find that the demand is so overwhelming there's little or no funds left by the time I manage to get through to any of the help lines:I absolutely realize I'm not the only one struggling, these are desperate times for many. I am finding that being in a shelter provides a few more opportunities for help in getting back on our feet, but the processes take time that I'm worried we don't really have.
I appreciate everyone's understanding, and hope that if enough people pitch in just a little, to help with school expenses so my son can benefit from the gifted/talented programs he is in, cell phone charges and post office box fees so I can continue to have contact availability for housing assistance programs, SSI disability claims and potential work-at-home jobs, and the steadily incresing co-pays for doctors visits and prescriptions.
Thanks for listening and for helping if you are able. We are greatly appreciative of all the help we've received so far, and hope that we can maintain the bare minimum in survival until a sustainable income and stable housing is finally a reality. Much love and peace to all...
Posted by Joanne OBrien
Phone charges through mid November, post office box renewal through the end of December, doctor and prescription co-pays and some school fees/expenses (we were able to secure some partial scholarships to help with those as well) have all been taken care of, as well as a start on the fees we owe the shelter (we are charged $5 a day for me, and $2.50 a day for my son). I am working daily at finding resources to help pay for the rest of what we owe now, and although I have not had any luck yet, I am hopeful that something will turn up in the next week or so.
Our exit date from the shelter is October 19th; it is possible we might get a short extension, especially if I can find a way to pay up what we owe through that date (currently our balance is $500). It's a bit hard to believe we have already been there 11 weeks.
I am still waiting to hear about disability/SSI, and in between doctor appointments and bouts with arthritis/fibromyalgia flares I have been searching for other telecommuting opportunities, but have not found much in the areas I am qualified for. Meanwhile I am exploring opportunites for retraining so that I am a bit more "marketable" in terms of employment.
I have also applied for as many housing programs as are available to us now (if approved for any of the income assistance programs I've applied for, those options increase dramatically; at this point it's just a matter of waiting on responses).
Medically, I am scheduled for a biopsy on lymph nodes to rule out lymphoma so I can begin treatment for the ankylosing spondylitis; I am hopeful that once that treatment begins I'll begin to function better and more opportunites will open up as my limitations hopefully decrease a bit.
Overall, compared to our last update, I am much more hopeful that we will be back in a home of our own and I will have a secure income in the not-so-distant future. We are especially grateful to those who reached out and offered support, whether financial or emotional/spiritual...those who took the time to offer kind words or financial assistance helped to renew our faith that there are amazingly good people in our lives and give us hope for our future.
Many thanks to all who are rooting for us, in whatever form...I can find no words great enough to express our appreciation for the peace of mind your generosity and thoughtfulness has brought us. So, until next time...peace, love and heartfelt thanks to all!
Posted by Joanne OBrien
Going without these simple things will ensure that becoming self-sufficient again will not happen at all, which means I will have no other choice but to send my son to live with his abusive father while I try to fend for myself on the street - just in time for winter. Knowing what I'll have to do to my son, combined with having to endure the elements and the scorn of those more fortunate, will absolutely do me in, and that thought is terrifying.
My greatest nightmare is coming true, despite all the help we've received so far; despite my pushing through the pain and exhaustion, against doctors' orders, enduring the miles of walking and hours of bone-jarring bus rides only to find that there is absolutely nothing available in the way of work or assistance for me. I had hope that finally being able to get medical treatment would open doors that had been locked for me, but it's turning out those doors will be forever closed, I was just teased with the hope. Every day it's all I can do to not give up, but I've kept going, and despite my determination and hard work it's looking like it's been all for nothing.
I am ashamed to be still asking for help, but despite all my efforts I find myself still in the position to have to beg on this virtual street corner.
I am losing my faith in humanity; my faith in myself; my faith that I'd be able to provide at least a safe and secure future for my son; my faith, period. Every day that goes by with absolutely no results from any of my efforts drags me down just that much more.
I am becoming living proof that hard work and determination mean absolutely nothing, and that is beyond devastating...everything I have ever believed in is falling apart, becoming a lie, and I can't describe what this is doing to my spirit.
If there is anything at all anyone can do, it would mean so much to my son and I...please don't let all the hard work, all the support, all the assistance received so far be for nothing. Thank you.
Posted by Joanne OBrien
Not being able to continue my doctor appointments and get the prescriptions I need to start managing my fibromyalgia and arthritis will negate any progress towards becoming self-sufficient; if my 12-year old cell phone isn't operational and if I lose my post office box, I'll not have contact ability for all the job, financial, housing and medical assistance I've applied for.
As much as I hate to keep asking, we still do need help getting back on our feet. The clock is ticking, we have just under six weeks left at the shelter, and without the ability to continue going to the doctor and keeping up with all the assistance programs I've applied for, our progress so far will be for nothing.
In the meantime, I'm really trying to keep some form of normalcy in my son's life, and not being able to participate in the advanced classes and programs he's more than qualified for - none of which are "included" in merely going to school anymore; there are fees for everything from using the computers in his class to going on the "required" Outdoor Education trip scheduled for the first week of October ($150 for the trip, plus a long list of supplies to bring along) - is really making school a drag for him. I've applied for all possible scholarships for him, but they all rely on the donations of other parents, and have yet to secure the funding for any of it. His father has not helped one bit, with supplies or school clothes or any fees, and has completely ignored any requests to pitch in even the slightest amount. My son had to quit the band the first week of school, as there was not a full scholarship available for his instrument, and for him to have to withdraw from the gifted/talented program simply because we can't afford the fees would be more than devestating.
So, as much as I regret having to do so, I must continue to ask for help; both of us need your support in order to continue our efforts towards self-sufficiency and a better future. Please pitch in what you can, or spread the word. Anything at all helps and is appreciated more than words can express. Heartfelt thanks go to all who have helped so far, and to all who can help us continue on the road to recovery from this unfortunate situation.
Posted by Joanne OBrien