I’m 60 years of age. I’ve been working since I was 17. I pride myself in the fact that I have always been active in my community and have always tried to be a benefit to society. I provided those benefits either directly as a part of my employment or indirectly in voluntary and philanthropic efforts. I’ve had a pretty good run.
I do not like beating my own drum nor do I seek the spotlight but there are some things that I must say to clarify why i’m writing this. Especially for those readers who don’t know me personally.
In the years since i came into being there are some concepts that I have always believed in. We are all part of the community and should all support the well being of the community and our brothers and sisters that live within it. We all have to be able to give as well as take. We all need to pay our dues to be a part of our society. Nobody in that society is worthless and nobody is worth more. These same concepts are shared by my wife and my children as well as most of the people around me.
I have worked to protect our environment, I have created new businesses and created jobs, I have given both financially and with resources to various individuals and organizations, all geared to improving life quality. I am not a financially rich man, nor likely will I ever be, and I have no complaints. I give as I get and will always do that.
A recent series of events have left me without a job. That has happened before but usually fixed quickly. This time it is lasting much longer than ever. I have actually had to file for unemployment for the first time in my life. I have had to apply for assistance to help keep my family fed. I have used up all of the reserves, gotten a lot of help from friends and family and even strangers. I’m actively pursuing a new job. In short I have done everything I could to avoid being a burden on the system.
Now that I need help from a system that I have funded for many years I have learned some truths. Every step of the way, I am treated like i’m scum. I went to the social services office and handed a stack of papers which I filled out and was told to sit and wait. I sat for an hour and a half, 1 of 2 people waiting. My turn came. I was informed that I was in the wrong office and would have to go to another one. I went to the other one got the forms, filled them out and returned them. That was 3 weeks ago that I asked for food assistance (food stamps). Today I found out that the system is being revamped and that I would have to be patient. Of course everything else I need is dependent on being assigned a caseworker.
In digging through the information I could find to get help with rent and utilities all of the information points to the same phone number which may or may not be answered. I called Duke energy for help with my electric bill. The customer disservice representative did not even ask me what the issue was. She read to me from her script gave me my 3 options, informed me that if I could not meet those my service would be disconnected. The food bank said that I would have to attend a counseling session before they would help. And today I got more forms to fill out. All of the forms and programs are administered through the same office that has already told me to be patient. It would seem to me that anyone applying for food stamps because they are unemployed probably needs other services. Why not use one intake form for everything.
I realize these people are doing their job as prescribed under the program guidelines. But i’m sure that there is nothing that says you can’t smile or show someone that you care. I know that there are people that may require more assistance than I do. Some that I have seen may not have the ability to fill out the forms or travel back and forth but that doesn’t seem to matter.
It seems to me that when a person is at the low point of their life they need to be handled with some compassion and as the name implies, given assistance. Instead we are treated as statistics or cattle to be herded. Just treated like the scum of the earth.