Saturday, July 27, 2013

broken ... 2

  A little over a week ago, I called 2-1-1 to see if I could get some help with a donated window air conditioner because it just isn't in my small budget (my net pay this month was less than $500, and they've cancelled my food stamps because I "make too much money").  I haven't had a working air conditioner in over a year, and summers here in Florida are hot hot hot.  When I got an estimate in March to see if this one could be fixed, they said that because it is an older model (although is only about seven years old) and uses a freon that isn't manufactured anymore, it would cost as much to repair it temporarily as it would to replace it.  Either way it would be about $3,000.

  Yeah, not happening.

  Anywhos... after a wild goose chase of calls here and there, I finally got an answer.


  It seems that the funds that used to support that program have dried up, and the people that used to donate to that program have stopped, and I could get on a waiting list but it might be two years, and then I would have to qualify, and my house inspected, and they would install a new heat pump air conditioner rather than just a window unit, and ... blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda, no.

  Okay.  I can deal with that.  I can go to my summer day care job and freeze my butt off during the day, and then come home at night and sweat it off (and trust me, it really isn't making a noticeable difference ... yet ... but I have lost about 15 pounds!).

  Today, I got a call from the 2-1-1 program to find out if I got any happy happy joy joy from my request for information and help when I called initially.


  Actually, I told him (just before stepping onto my soapbox) that their organization was great, the gentleman I spoke to was very helpful, but the truth was that the system is broken.

  See, about six years ago, I was making a very healthy salary that allowed me to generously contribute to their programs, financially and materially.  And I did.  Often.  But then things came to a screeching halt, and that salary went away.  If I clear $10k this year, I will be very lucky, and that will be about $55k less that what I was making six years ago.  Not only did my own personal "economy" change, but the economy of the world changed.  Because of that, people changed.  Those who could give before, probably can't anymore.  Like me, they are now seeking assistance from the very programs that they once supported.   The people who still can support those programs ... aren't.  Maybe because they are afraid of the bottom dropping out of their economy also, but it seems to be a global pandemic.  Everyone who has money is hanging on to it, and honestly ... I can't say that I blame them.  Things are scary out here.

  Last fall when I was forced to go to food pantries and food banks and churches before I was able to get on food stamps ... there was very little on their shelves.  What was there was stuff like canned cranberries, split pea soup, canned asparagus ... which are all really great ... if you like them and can eat them without gagging or thinking of The Exorcist.  I got bags and bags and bags of rice ... that within a week all turned buggy and had to be thrown away.  The community churches that once upon a time would put on massive meals for those in need for the holidays?  Not a one last year.  Not.A.Single.One.  I was shocked.

  Then I apologized for being on a soapbox and said again how much I believed in their organization and what they were doing, but really, they weren't able to help me at all.  His "indirect" suggestion then was that I contact those organizations that would pay my electric bill and see if I can get them to pay my bill so that I can afford to buy a window a/c unit.

  Here's the thing about that ... churches and organizations that will pay your electric bill for you, want to see your late notice with a disconnect warning on it before they will pay it, and they you can only go to the same church or organization once a quarter, or some even once a year.  Since I'm not paying for an a/c that is running 24/7, my bill is affordable.  For me to try to use his "suggestion" to save for a window a/c unit, I would need to save for 3-4 months ... and be dishonest.  By that time, summer would be over and it would be a non-issue ... and really I don't like being dishonest.

  Then I stepped back up on my soapbox and told him that I appreciated his suggestion and I knew that I would be alright.  But what was really frustrating were the seniors, or those with small children, who really did need air conditioning in this heat and humidity, and didn't have the summer day care 65 degree cafeteria to sit in during the day.  The people who were really at risk for health issues, or heat stroke, or death ... who were one of the four or five people a day who called the Council on Aging and asked for help ... the people who needed help more than me who were going to get the same blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda no speech that I got.

  Because the system is broken.

  I know that one day my life is going to turn around again, and I will once again be able to give and help and donate and support the programs that I've had to rely on now.

  But what about all the other people who won't be able to do that in the future?  What about all the people that need help now?  What about them?  Who will help them right now?

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