No. I am not a “Do-Gooder” – I am an angry and intolerant snob with customer service issues. I can’t afford to be one of those “Ladies who Lunch” – but please, feel free to fix me up with a Sugar Daddy so I could be…. I’m just saying that I am open to the idea… It isn’t so much that I am trying to make the world a better place – I am trying to make the world I live in a place where I don’t want to scream and poke people.
Growing up in Arcadia, CA we were shielded from poverty and other human afflictions. Before you get defensive, remember that the Santa Anita Racetrack was an Internment Camp until Manzanar
was ready – and I didn’t know that until I went to college. Everyone pretended that all adults could read, hold employment and were emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially healthy. As children, my friends and I knew this was not reality. We had friends who lived in trailers, shared back houses with other families, had incurable lung diseases, and family and friends with substance use issues. Arcadia was (and is) a nice bubble to live in – but bubbles are transparent and everyone can see through them.
I was confused and angry to be told of one reality while I lived something completely different. My biological mother was chronically homeless, mentally ill and a drug addict. I was adopted into a family where my uncles had (and have) ongoing substance abuse and mental health problems and my adoptive Mother had a life long illness. My uncles moved in and out of my grandparents homes because they could not stabilize themselves. And as far as I could tell, no one stood up and said “Hey, look over here and see if we can make a change!”
Supposedly we can blame Bryan Whitlach Alexander for his infusion of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror while I was in High School. “Look in the mirror and make the change….”
I went to college and dropped out to become an unwed mother with 3/4ths of a college degree. My sorority sisters abandoned me when they realized I was going to live in poverty and raise my daughter on cash aid and food stamps while I worked minimum wage jobs and debated returning to college. Eventually I did complete my degree – which today I am told will never be worth what I paid to earn it… great. While in college I did an Internship at Santa Anita Family Services and met a homeless man living in the parking lot. I was told to drive him to the edge of our “SPA” – Service Provider Area – and then he would not be our problem anymore. Seriously?!?! More “out of sight is out of mind” thinking? Wow.
While I was never good at finding resources for myself, I did suddenly start a search for ways to help this man. What I discovered will not shock the natives – THERE ARE NO SERVICES IN ARCADIA to assist the low income or homeless. None. Sure, the churches and synagogues and temples offer sack lunches, but there is no employment training, nowhere to collect cash aid checks and pick up food stamps (these are now issued on an EBT card), no public restrooms or showers or low cost laundry mats. Even the Adult Education Classes were held outside of the city. I would love to build a MEND Poverty (Meet Each Need with Dignity ) in the San Gabriel Valley.
So, I became a Social Worker. I would love to bring and build services needed by so many – but I don’t know how to fund that. What I do know how to do is have an encyclopedic reference for every possible service currently provided in the area, the ability to network, to connect via social media, and how to make a human connection with the people in need for these services and plug them into the programs they need.
As a social worker and child of teachers, I am intolerant of people who drop out of high school, and equally intolerant of schools that disenfranchise students who don’t fit their dream ideal of what a child’s goals should be. In Arcadia there are no more Vocational Training courses such as auto shop and woodworking. They even tried to kill the football program because it conflicted with test schedules. No joke. Now that I know where the great Remedial Education and Adult Basic Education skills are offered, I am intolerant of folks who won’t try to achieve the most necessary of “Get a job” skills – the High school Diploma or GED.
I am angered by parents who refuse to continue school and who settle for minimum wage jobs because parenthood prevented them from living their dreams. Don’t they understand that they are telling their kids that the kids are dream killers? I would rather they show the children that the kids inspired the parents to push harder than ever and achieve their goals. My oldest daughter was five years old when she attended my graduation from The University of La Verne. She is currently a Sophomore there.
I am intolerant of people who believe that only illegal immigrants can do menial manual labor like push material through sewing machine, pick crops, wash dishes, swab restrooms. The money is just as green from field work as it is from sitting in an office. My father picked and sliced fruit as a youth, and I literally washed a grown man’s butt to pay for college. Work is work and money is money. Some work is harder on your body and soul – but they ability to pay bills is not reduced by the nature of the source of income.
People are worth more than the sum of their bank accounts and personal property. This is my largest pet peeve (other than when folks don’t take down the blue handicap placard before driving… I mean, read the bottom of the card and take it down already! ). Jesus , Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Ben Franklin – none of these people had credit cards and not all of them had permanent or stable housing throughout their adulthood. Would you refuse to have dinner with them now, if you could? These folks are noteworthy because of what went on in their minds, the words that came from their mouths and the actions they took. It never had anything to do with income. How did money become so important in dividing us anyway?
I am intolerant of people who give up and are as helpless as they can be in the hopes that someone will save them. I have had enough with the “Damsel in Distress” act. Get up. Pick a direction and get moving. You won’t get to come back as someone smarter or richer – this is your one life. Educate yourself, enrich yourself with your own efforts and reach out and help those around you.
I am not trying to make the world a better, kinder place. I am trying to shape it into a place I can set my four girls loose into and know they will thrive – where even if hard times happen (because they will) there will be assistance and motivation for them. I want to build the world I was told Arcadia has always been.