I was born and still reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), which has a population of about 500,000.
"The homeless population in the city is estimated at 10,000, but a recent survey shows there's no such thing as a typical profile. The homeless are men and women of all races and ages. Many are members of a family with at least one child."
The preceeding is a quote from an article, written by Caleb Fort, a staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal, and the article was published in December, 2007. The article is entitled, "The Have-Nots. Faces of city's homeless population show problem's complexity; need for services."
* For over a decade or so, I have lost SIX jobs, due to layoffs for one reason or another; companies closing; defense cuts; out sourcing; companies moving out of the country, etc. I have never been fired from a job because of poor attendence, attitude or for any other reason! I've been in the humor business for over forty years, and I got a curious email, from a fellow who asked the following.
"How does a person lose a job and keep a smile on his face?" The simple answer: "You don't!" Every job I've lost, I feel just like everybody else who loses their source of income...AWFUL! That empty, hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach...and the helpless feeling that goes with it, etc.
"It can't happen to me!" Hurricane; tornado; house fire; accident; illness; job loss; homelessness...it always happens to somebody else, right? Millions of people all across the United States have lost their jobs during the last decade or so. And, there is no more job security, which is scary in itself!
"We're like tea bags...we don't know our own strength until we're in hot water." Sister Busche
Article: "Some homeless people have substance-abuse problems or a mental illness, while others are on the run from domestic violence! Some of the homeless simply can't afford the rent." Most of them blend into the community, said Lisa LaBrecque, policy and advocacy director for the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. They stand in line with us at the coffee shop. Their children go to school with the rest."
* * *
For over ten years, I worked for a large engineering company, and something curious happened when the company started laying off people in 1992, the year of my first job loss. They laid off people starting at the top...department heads...and this became the trend, that is still practiced in the year 2008! Between the 14 of us that got laid off that year, we had over 200 years with the company!
Today, the people who make the most money are the first to go, etc. So much for job security! Over a decade or so, it has been a wild roller-coaster ride for me, with all the ups and downs...and the stress and depression that go with it! Just about the time, I was recovering from one job loss...another layoff would come along and throw a monkey-wrench into what I had accomplished!
"When asked if my cup was half full or half empty...my response is that I am thankful that I have a cup." Sam Lefkowitz
Article: "The survey was done by the coalition and was conducted at various shelter and service agencies in Albuquerque. It was based on interviews and questionaires administered to 210 homeless people. In many ways, the survey contradicts the common image of the homeless as a middle-age, substance-abusing men although mental illness and substance-abuse are still part of the issue, said Lee Pattison, executive director of the St. Martin's Hospitality House."
- In fact, the survey revealed that 27.6 percent of the homeless people were female. - Eight percent said mental health counseling could have prevented their homelessness.
- About 18 percent of those questioned, said substance abuse treatment could have kept them from losing their home. "Hope never abandons you...you abandon it!" George Weinberg * * * When you add illness to a job loss...it makes for a toxic mix!
After the six job losses, I was beat up and living off a credit card, and that got me in trouble, too! I finally couldn't pay the rent, and I was evicted! But, I thought a judge would never throw an unemployed person out in the streets, but I was wrong!
There's not an emptier feeling, than to go before a judge, and to get your walking papers! Stress and depression were my constant companions for over a decade! But, I never knew how serious depression was, until I went out on the Internet and did a little research. I was stunned as to what I learned!
Everywhere I went, there were two words that were always present, the word, "depression," and the word "suicide." So, I had not been just suffering from the "blues," for over a decade...I was in a serious depressed state for years!
From: National Institute of Mental Health:
In any given year, 9.5% of the population or 18.8 million American adults, suffer from depression illness. The economic cost for this disorder is high, but the cost of human suffering cannot be estimated. Depression often interferes with normal functioning and causes pain and suffering, not only to those who have the disorder, but to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life, as well as the life of the ill person.
Depression is a serious medical condition, which can lead to the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Although most people who are depressed, do not kill themselves, untreated depression, can increase the risk of possible suicide. Severly depressed people often do not have the energy to harm themselves, but it is when the depression lifts, that hey gain energy, and they may be more likely to attempt suicide.
"There are two ways of meeting difficulties...you can alter the difficulties...or you can alter yourself to meet them." Phyllis Battome
Heart failure came calling 2005, and I was hospitalized at the VA Medical Center for over 3 months! Taken by ambulance, I was not able to make arrangements to get my possessions out of my apartment, and I suffered my "Katrina," and lost everything! Now,I know what the victims of the hurricane Katrina feel like, etc.
During this time, I was wondering about the corrolation between depression and heart-failure, and here's what I found: From: American Psychological Association; Some people with depression try to harm themselves in a mistaken belief that how they are feeling will never change.
Research over the past two decades, has shown that depression and heart disease are common companions, and what is worse, is one can lead to the other! It appears now, that depression is an important risk factor for heart disease along with high blood cholestrol and high blood pressure. Major depression is a major cause of disabitly in the U.S. and world-wide.
From: Science Daily.com
Depression, not antidepressants, increase mortality risks in heart failure. People who suffer from depression, have an increased risk of dying from heart failure. During my long stay in the VA hospital, I applied for and got a disability pension. But, $850.00 doesn't go very far, etc. I had to pay for car insurance; car registration; a personal loan and for my website, and almost half of it was gone! I had no choice, but to call the homeless shelter and reserve a bed, and this was one of the toughest things I have ever had to do!
After 3 months in the hospital, I went to live in a homeless shelter. I did this, because after about a month, I would get another pension check from the VA, and then I could get a place of my own.
"Don't complain about you don't have...enjoy what you have!" Stanley Judd
Article: "More than a quarter of the respondents to the survey, said they had a job and 40 percent of those said they worked 40 hours or more per week. The problem, LaBrecque said, is a lack of affordable housing. The disparity between real estate prices and the rise in wages often forces those at the lower end out of their homes, she said. * * * The shelter consisted of about 50-60 beds for men only. There was security around the clock, so I felt fairly safe. "What am I doing here!" I asked myself! "How has my life gone so wrong!"
Like anyone else, I was embarrassed and humiliated...and the shame of it all! But, the key factor, was the fact that I was grateful I had a roof over my head! It was getting close to October, and I could feel the chill in the air!
The part I hated the most, was a couple yellow buses, would pick us up at 6:00 AM in the morning and take us downtown for breakfast. Morning after morning, I stared out the bus window, and thought to myself, "What am I doing here?" And, everyday I stood in the soup line, I thought the same thing, "Where did I go wrong?" But, I was grateful that I had a roof over my head, and something to eat, etc.
During this awful time in my life, I had to work consistanly on my self-esteem! None of this was my fault...and it wasn't! Millions of people lose their jobs...I just happened to lose a few more than others! There was no finger-pointing on my part!
What was the most interesting to me, was the fact, that many of these men didn't look like the typical homeless man...dirty, unshaven, with weathered faces, etc. Many of these men, looked like the neighbor next door...professional-looking; good communications; and they looked like they could put on a coat and tie, and go gown the street and work at the bank, etc. They looked out of place, here!
Could more and more people be falling through the cracks because of job lossesl the housing situation and a greedy society?
"I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man with no feet!" Indian proverb
Article: "Anything you or I would want, they (homeless people) want too," said Andy Najar, a case manager for Cahtolic Charities. "We can only treat the symtoms. The cause is societal issue. It seems like there are a lot more have-nots than there used to be!" Homeless survey:
- 27.6 percent were female - 59.3 percent were 40 to 59 years old - 68.1 percent were single; 21 percent were part of a family.
In early 2006, I had a pace-maker implanted. I took all the information I got from the VA and gave it to Social Security, and in just two months, I was awarded a disability pension at SS. The rules at the VA, stated that I had to report any and all income to the VA, so when I reported the Social Security income, the VA terminated my disability pension.
As of January, 2008, the decision has been appealed to the VA. Whether it's a health issues, home, sweet,home...or anything else..."you don't know what you've got, until you lose it!" Isn't that the way the saying goes?
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