We’ve had rolling blackouts and my friends have complained about their power going out so they couldn’t turn on their air conditioning. Other friends have been using a fan because they’re afraid of the power cost of their air conditioning. I’m more concerned about the people living in their cars and on the street we don’t have access to air conditioning or a cooler place to be. When in public right now we’re supposed to be wearing a mask and LA county but it’s super hot and wearing a mask is almost unbearable.
remember this whenever you see someone outside who is homeless in the middle of a global pandemic
We are making great strides at ending homelessness and connecting people in that community to mental health and substance programs.
I am FINALLY doing therapy with this population.
My boss is great.
So… what’s the problem?
Well, yesterday was my two year anniversary at Tarzana. I was expecting to do my annual review. I’m expecting my review to be amazing because I have kicked ass for the last year and I say that without modesty because it was a deliberate choice. A year ago I should have quit but I stayed and I gave it my all to make a point to myself and to not be chased off from work I really believe in by people who didn’t like me.
Hell is Human Resources Helping Someone Bully You
Last fall I went through hell at work. I got an email from my then supervisor asking me to respond to a complaint made against me. A complaint that was very long, incredibly detailed, and grossly fictional. It was insultingly fictional.
It took human resources 4 months to get to the end of this and give me the results of this whole investigation. That’s 1/3 of a year. from October to January I did not know what was going on or if I’d have a job and I was told not to tell anybody including my own direct supervisor about what I was going through. I was not told who I could talk to I was not given connections to employee assistance programs and I wasn’t advised to seek legal help or bring anybody with me into human resources and I went in a lot. They didn’t like my response; they had me write more and had me write more again. I went in for an interview they had me come back for a second interview and I had to go in a third time. Sometimes the head of human resources was there – sometimes it was one of the junior staff. Eventually I got half an hour’s notice that they needed to meet with me and give me their answer about what was going on. It was exhausting, scary, frightening and I was completely unsupported by my place of employment. I had to take a week of stress leave because I had stopped sleeping and couldn’t stop crying. I was being bullied by this process happening at work. The employee eventually quit and took with her a lot of my personal property that I had to buy and loan to her so that she could perform her job easier.
At the same time I had shelter houses filled with homeless people who needed help and staff who were new to the field who needed guidance and I was the best person to do that. I stayed and I did that. I brought my project in under budget and got its timeline extended because I saved so much money. I went out to the hospitals we worked with and talked to the staff there and built connections and rapport and made the company that was torturing me look good. Because I believe in the company I work for even though once small portion of it was robbing me of my happiness.
I hate the gays?
To give you hint of what was in that complaint, I apparently hate gay people. Yes, you read that right. I apparently don’t like the gay population and tell queer women that they should not feel good about being who they are because vaginas are gross. Never mind that I have a queer curious daughter, pictures of rainbows all over my office, a button that says”yay for gay” at my desk. When I did the hiring- I knowingly hired three gay people. Two gay men and one gay lady. I led grief support groups for children who had lost a friend due to bullying based on their sexuality. I brought in rainbow posters that say this is a hate-free zone and I’m an ally. If you’ve ever met me you would know that I’m very concerned about this population because they are at risk and vulnerable because of the discrimination they face and that I don’t discriminate against them.
That was one of the many claims.
Another one was that I throw furniture at employees. I would invite anyone to come into my office and tell me exactly which piece of that furniture you think I could pick up before we get to the issue of my stance on violence – I am nonviolent by choice. The junior employee lady in human resources didn’t ask me “if” I threw furniture at somebody. She asked me “why” I threw the furniture. The assumption they presented was that I was guilty of all that was said.
I did not feel like I was being treated fairly. I did not feel like they were investigating to try to find the truth. I very much felt like they were making it as unpleasant as possible and hoping I would just quit.
Hostile treatment from them was not new. One day we had a fire drill and everybody had to go stand outside in the parking lot. I was wearing a black sweater that hit just below my waist and red cigarette pants. $90 cigarette pants by the way that came from PinUp Gal. I had on black flats, makeup and a black headband. I was completely and totally professionally dressed for work. All of the Human Resources staff was there with me in the parking lot and yet I got an awkward notification from my program director, who is stationed in another city, asking me if I was wearing leggings to work. Full disclosure, I’m an incredibly fat person. Cigarette pants on someone who weighs 100 lb versus cigarettes on someone of my stature- okay it’s a completely different look. Probably not my most flattering look but I was definitely not wearing leggings and there’s nothing in the employee manual that says I have to address in a certain way to compliment my body shape or frame. I immediately drove 20 minutes to go show my current supervisor that I was wearing clothes that were appropriate to work and included the internet shopping link showing the exact types of pants I was wearing. I then sent that email and notified human resources that I did not appreciate being fat shamed. any member of them who’d had a question about what I was wearing had the opportunity to ask me when we were all standing within 40 ft of each other in the parking lot. Their personal opinion that I didn’t look good in those pants had no place at work.
There was another time when an employee sent me a series of text messages calling me a petty liar and disparaging me and the director of my department. The male employee was allowed to keep his job. I was forced to continue working with him, and although he was supposedly put on probation he was never formally let off of probation. Nothing happened.
My company did not stand up for me or check in with me to make sure I was okay after my personal cell phone received those attack text messages in a row. I was not even giving guidance on how to respond or not respond to that.
I have been making the choice to stay and continue working because I really believe that Tarzana has the right approach to permanently ending homelessness one person at a time and has the ability to do it in bulk. They are connecting with other homeless service agencies and sharing what they know and coordinating and sharing staff and they are finally right where they need to be and I get to participate in this and it’s awesome and I love it. And I thought I had put all that other pain behind me.
I had thought I healed from all the other damage until I found out that my annual review would be postponed by the same amount of time it took them to complete the internal human resources complaint investigation. You see, I’m still at Tarzana but they changed my job title and so apparently that means they will change my start date and review date. This was not explained to me until Thursday when I asked my supervisor to start my review process. At the same time that they changed my job title they retroactively reached back to a time before this complaint was filed and changed the results of my last year’s annual review which happened in September (but the complaint landed in October). They changed the score on my September review which reduced my pay increase. Now this year they want me to wait until next January to do my annual review and evaluate a possible increase. They are hitting me in my pocketbook and I don’t play when it comes to my dollars. I agreed to take this low paying job because I believe in the company and the mission.
But I will not believe in the company and the mission if they can’t get it together and treat me fairly this once and moving forward.
I’ve had employment lawyers reach out to me and offer to represent me. I’ve had people telling me I should sue this company for discrimination based on my body type. But that’s not what I wanted to. I just want to do my job, get my raise and finish earning my hours. oh, have I told you that I’ve been on the wait list to get my LCSW hours for 18 months?
Today was child maintenance day in my household, and that kind of wrapped up a big week for our family.
Today and yesterday my youngest child was on the news discussing the park that she goes to. I have to go to work every single day. Where I work does not care that we’re having a global pandemic and so we’re definitely not allowed to stay home so I am showing up every single day. I have about 100 vacation days spanked which frankly I’m storing up because I’m about ready to stomp out. But that, is a whole different story.
I think I probably made this point before, the week before Darla started kindergarten in fact. But childcare is the only reason that I can work. I can’t stay home and still pay for rent and phone and food and food stamps would not be enough to live on with two people. I know that cuz I’ve tried before.
Darla is able to go to a camp put on by the city of Los Angeles and do her online learning, have lunch, do arts and crafts, and exercise. Most importantly she gets to socialize with other people who are not me. Awesome as I am I should not be anybody’s only company.
But here’s the kicker. She could not have enrolled in this camp if I didn’t have a computer. I couldn’t call and enroll her in this camp I had to go onto a website which by the way, that website hates me. That website and I are mortal enemies. when I die, no matter how many decades in the future, I expect that website to come and find a way to grow legs and dance on my tombstone because it hates me so much and it’s so difficult to use.
moms and Dad’s on welfare who don’t have access to the internet can’t get their kids on the internet and wouldn’t even know to look to enroll their kids in camp. Fortunately there were news articles this week about camp but they didn’t tell how to enroll your kid. ABC tried to turn the piece into a hit shot on the school district. NBC did a better piece but not a helpful piece for walking people through the enrollment process.
I was only informed about this camp because I remained friends with the director of my local park from when she saved my butt by enrolling Darla there for after kindergarten care.
I remember pacing behind the Santa Clarita DPSS office where I worked and sweating it out. Trying to figure out how I could make sure my child was cared for so that I could go to job day after day so I could go to school because I was starting grad school at the same time. It’s a single parent and child support to joke unless you think $380 a month is enough for a kid. These parks are $150 a week which * 4 is $600 (I don’t know I can’t do math).
But today I was also able to pop her into the car and drive her all the way to diamond bar where her doctor is. Her pediatrician moved from Baldwin Park to Diamond Bar and I am so lucky to be able to take the time and have the means and mowed to get that far to take her to go see Dr Yam. I’m lucky that we have Kaiser so she has quality medical care. I’m lucky that I have a job that pays for Delta dental so that I can take her to the dentist of my choosing which, is Tri-City smiles in Hacienda Heights.
With my first child I had to take the bus everywhere or rely on my mom for rides. I finally got a car but it was a 1974 Chevy Bel Air. I had to take her to Western dental which I still believe to be the worst place ever for dental care. I went from clinic to clinic based on whatever health insurance my medical got put under, was Molina care it was blue shield it was Kaiser for kids. I couldn’t have a regular pediatrician that she saw all the time and who knew her and could give her that feeling of being seen and understood and having her medical history really known.
Moms and dads and kids who are homeless right now don’t have these luxuries. when we say that America is a land of opportunity we should be able to say it’s the land of equal opportunity, but it just isn’t.
Right now I’m watching the political system unravel and people talking about the 1% and the 98% and the poor people. They’re talking about defending Social security they’re talking about defunding Social security. They’re talking about taking away Medi-Cal and food stamps. They’re talking about forcing people to work when there aren’t enough jobs here for them to work at the skill levels that they have. Also, please keep in mind, we’re still in a global pandemic. Are we saying that lesser skilled people have less intrinsic value and therefore it’s okay to put them at risk and let them die?
I am so lucky to be an entitled parent. I am also very lucky to have been a poor parent – and here I mean income wise no matter what my oldest child will tell you. It gives me depth and bredth and a whole perspective on the privilege I have.
Love changes you. Love for something outside of yourself allows you to change the world. Love for your fellow man makes you want to make the world a better place for everyone.
You may, or may not, know that I used to be a Sunday school teacher and I am a practicing Methodist which is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. It’s clearly the best branch though. It’s the one that started the public school system in the United States, thank you John Wesley. Although, it’s not all cool because I wanted to be a nun but it turns out that Methodists don’t have nuns They just have “Wesleyans” which are ladies with big sun hats I think. That’s depressing and so I was not a nun and became an unwed mother of two. Thank you John Wesley – said a little more sarcastically this time. – but I have digressed.
If you were to talk to anybody who’s been doing homeless services for a long time they will tell you that it is something done out of love. We certainly don’t do it for the money. It’s not one of those careers that just anybody can pick up and do like being a retail clerk (I won’t say waitress because that is something I will never have the patience for. But I have been a retail clerk so I know it’s real easy to scan a price tag and bag merchandise.) We do this for the internal value. Any work done to better the life of someone who could not pay you equally for the value of your effort is a labor of love.
John 15:13 states Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
I don’t plan on dying for my friends anytime soon (and frankly it would be super inconvenient since I have a 9-year-old to finish raising). But, the way that I can “lay down my life” is that I can set aside my individual dreams of wealth and theme and focus it on helping other people.
I can lay my life down like a coat over a puddle for others to step on and remain safe.
There is no masochistic joy in this. I don’t always enjoy it. I would like my carefree weekends back. I’d like to have better stories to tell a cocktail hour or post on Facebook. This gives me a feeling of fulfilled purpose though and maybe that makes it worth the sacrifices. Our world should be a better place and I want to keep as many people from experiencing suffering in every way that I can.
Sometimes that means grabbing my keys and going out to a march for social change.
Sometimes that means writing a letter to the editor.
Sometimes that means developing programs and writing policy that are novel and unexpected.
Policies and programs that subvert pain that make it safer to live while being homeless, that give dignity to people without money, and that create a path from poverty to prosperity or even just from poverty to “not starving to death”.
Yes, there is the tragic time vampires of budget meetings and the annoyance of day-to-day office life: Turning in time cards, losing my work badge (It wasn’t really lost I forgot I was wearing it) and dealing with the demons in human resources.
But the thing about love, is that it is its own reward. It is a gift to know that you can use your soul as a tool to improve the world, that you can use your compassion and brain as a weapon to fight off fear hunger and death. We are blessed to be the keeper of our brothers and sisters. We love well and sometimes are well loved in return.
Okay, If you just sang that in your head, you are as old as I am and loves Tom Patton and super chicken.
My point is however, I made a conscious decision to work in a dangerous job. I make the decision everyday to go into environments with gangsters and drug dealers and mentally ill people and people who are high on drugs and sexual predators and everybody that you would normally want to run away from. But my job has me there to help them. I choose to help and engage and not be afraid.
I have had guns and at me and knives pulled out at me and things thrown at me and until it’s hurled at me and here I said. I’m safe and unharmed in my living room. there is training for a nonviolent crisis intervention and the escalation training, and someday I’ll get around to taking those trainings. Until then, my biggest tool is that I don’t look like a threat and I never act like I’m a threat until even though I’m short and fat and I limp, and I am the ultimate Karen I am able to walk away from many dangerous situations.
If I had had a weapon, I might have tried less hard to engage with the person in front of me and only face the threat. of course that would have met It was easier for me to get out of my office the one time I really tall crazy man on drugs laid down and blocked the doorway for a couple of hours and then pulled the phone cord out of the wall. But I don’t think I could have lived with myself. I felt enough guilt when I helped somebody use their social security money to buy a case of tax-free cigarettes, I couldn’t have heard someone.
Well I take that back. You all know that my first day at what is now The People Concern I cold cocked a man and knocked him out mere minutes after my new supervisor had left the property. But I freaked out then too and my whole body started shaking and when he came to I sent him to his cot as if he were a naughty 4-year-old.
I do have fond memories of standing on my desk at Maximus Penn yelling at people who are misbehaving.
My friends with concealed carry permits encourage me to get a gun and carry it around.
But at the same time I really have always thought of the biblical phrase that you should “turn the other cheek”.
My will and estate plan are already written. Custodial backups have been put in place for Darla. My life insurance is fully paid up but I don’t think I’ll ever need that option because of a situation from work.
If I ever do feel that the job is too dangerous, I will quit. I have a whole fancy master’s degree that I should someday pay for. Someday I might also finish getting my hours and get a license and I can do therapy. But let’s be real, I’ll be doing therapy with monthly unwell people and that’s also dangerous.
I’m sure that a second grade teacher who was shot in her classroom thought that her job was a safe option until the school shooter showed up. Sure the minister at the black Baptist Church thought he was safe until a shooter showed up. Sure that everybody in the twin towers thought they had a safe job until an airplane fell into it.
It is a mad mad world out there and we have to love one another and take care of each other.
I help a lot of people move in and out of shelters, encampments, apartments, and sometimes garages. Occasionally we find that people accumulated more than they needed and sometimes it is junk that needs to be thrown away.
I don’t like to refer any program or service I have not first tried. Fortunately I hate my furniture and there is a rotting table on my patio. I want it gone so I can get something new that we don’t hate. Something that won’t trap us when we try to get up. I refuse to be one of the folks who toss items to the curb so I had to find a plan.
I called 1800GotJunk . after noticing that their website had no pricing guide. They mentioned the cost would be around $123-$150. Eek, but worth it, right?
My appointment with @1800gotjunk was for tomorrow but they called me at lunch today to say they were near my home so could they swing on by? Usually this is a boon, a service so eager to help that they come a whole day earlier? Wow. (Unless I tell you on the phone that I need an evening or weekend because I work during the days.)
Ummmmmmmmmm, I am not there and my house is not ready for guests but the man on the phone was pushing so I agreed. I called my daughter and my neighbor and arraigned for them to be there and point out the offending items.
Then the call comes.
“I am here in your house and we are ready to load the items but your couch is the size of a couch. It will take up one third of my truck! your other couch is kinda big and wow – the table will also take up space. It might be more than what we quoted you – maybe over $200 , let me see how it looks in the truck. “
After it was loaded and they were driving away I get a call “We need you to pay us. It is going to be $380”. So, this was not the “up front pricing” advertised on the web page. it was a hard sell from a nice sounding guy. It was like being robbed by the Gerber Baby.
My daughter said the guys were soo nice and explained to her that when there is already a lot of stuff in the truck already they are allowed to charge more.
I am not there, they have done the work, and I felt pressured. What would happen if I said that was more than double the price I was originally quoted? They know where I live, the HOA will freak if they dump it on my lawn . . . the only nice way to say “No” is to say “yes”.
Distance learning is challenging for everyone. For children and families with IEPs and special learning needs it can be a challenge to sanity and peace.
LAUSD has published this PDF about their program and what you can expect.
Students may and learn in a variety of online learning environments including but not limited to: small-group instruction, whole-group instruction co-taught with a general education teacher, and collaborative learning groups. Learning may occur live (synchronous instruction) or independently (asynchronous instruction). Students with disabilities may also participate in additional interventions throughout the school year.
Special Day Program Students receiving services through a special day class program will continue to receive instruction from a special day class teacher. Teachers will provide both synchronous (live) and asynchronous instruction to students.
Resource Specialist Program Resource Specialist Teachers may provide services “pushing in” to synchronous classes and co-teaching, collaborating, and/or consulting with the general education teachers during the scheduled planning time or office hours. Resource Specialist Teachers might also provide support to students in Zoom breakout rooms or in separate sessions between general education synchronous learning opportunities.
Alternate Curriculum Students with disabilities on an alternate curriculum will have access to the Unique Learning System through their Schoology course. Students may also participate in a variety of online learning environments including but not limited to, live (synchronous) whole- and small-group instruction along with independent (asynchronous) instruction. For more information about support for alternate curriculum programs and students with moderate-severe disabilities, contact James Koontz, Coordinator of Moderate-Severe Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tiffany Sepe, Specialist for Moderate-Severe Programs at email@example.com.
Early Childhood Special Education The Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Family Site provides Distance Learning resources that are aligned to instructional synchronous and asynchronous activities for children and families along with quick links to additional information. ECSE teachers will support families during the first week of school in navigating the ECSE Family Site. https://sites.google.com/lausd.net/ecse-familysite/home
District Office of Transition Services The District Office of Transition Services coordinates the planning and delivery of transition services for all students with disabilities, beginning at age 14 (or younger, if appropriate) to prepare them for transition from school to adult living. Services will continue to be provided for students during periods of remote learning. However, Work Based Learning Experiences in the community are unable to resume until health and safety guidelines indicate students can make a safe return into community settings. For further information regarding our programs, please click here to visit our website. Career Transition Centers Students with disabilities participating in adult transition programs through a Career and Transition Center, including students in CATS and ProjectSearch, will be provided instruction that addresses academic, functional, independent living, and vocational skills through virtual instruction. These students also have access to the Unique Learning System through Schoology courses. Students may also participate in a variety of online learning environments including but not limited to live (synchronous) whole- and small-group instruction along with independent (asynchronous) instruction.
Special Education Paraprofessionals (including BII) Special Education Paraprofessionals will participate in support and delivery of instruction through virtual class lessons. They will work with classroom teachers to provide supports for students.
Related Services Related Service providers will be contacting parents during the first two weeks of school, as part of initial contact and to schedule service sessions. Providers will also collaborate with teachers and other service providers to coordinate schedules and services. Services will begin as soon as possible taking into account distance learning considerations. Services will be delivered synchronously (live), unless mitigating circumstances apply. Services may be delivered asynchronously, as necessary. Maintaining consistent/routine service schedules is beneficial for both providers and students/parents. Providers are trying their best to ensure consistent schedules are maintained so that students can consistently be served. Related Services providers will schedule one office hour per week and the time of the scheduled office hour will be communicated to parents.
Psychological Services School psychologists will be contacting parents to schedule DIS counseling sessions during the first two weeks of school. They will also collaborate with teachers and other service providers to determine the best time for students to receive these services. School psychologists will be scheduling the DIS counseling services according to individual student IEPs taking into account distance learning considerations. Services will be delivered synchronously (live), unless there are extenuating circumstances warranting asynchronous delivery of services.
Psychological Services (continued) Maintaining consistent/routine service schedules is beneficial for both providers and students/parents. Providers are trying their best to ensure consistent schedules are maintained so that students can consistently be served. School psychologists will schedule one office hour weekly to facilitate communication with parents and school staff. The time of the scheduled office hour will be communicated to parents.
Assistive technology We continue the process of providing assistive technology to students. If your child’s IEP includes any communication equipment, assistive technology, or augmentative alternative communication device, and your child has not yet received it, please contact your school administration. You may also call 213-241-6701 or contact Kari Tapie at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Low Incidence Mobility Equipment If your child’s IEP included any low incidence equipment for mobility purposes, you will be contacted by a District specialist to determine if your child’s equipment can be safely used at home and/or if alternative methods of meeting mobility goals are available. If you have any questions, please contact the school site physical therapist or Lisa Test at email@example.com or Rosaura Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Meetings Virtual IEP team meetings will continue for the 2020-2021 school year during virtual instruction. When in-person services commence, the District will continue with virtual IEP team meetings as an option for families. IEP team meetings will continue as scheduled and parents with a registered mobile number will receive an automated text reminder 15 days before the scheduled date. During the school closure, virtual IEP team meetings will continue through Zoom. Training for virtual IEP team meetings is available to parents both in English and Spanish on the Division of Special Education website. To access your child’s active IEP, please visit the Parent Portal.
Call Center The Division of Special Education Call Center under School and Family Support Services (SFSS), responds to inquiries from families and District stakeholders regarding special education processes, and facilitates collaboration between families and school teams to appropriately address parent concerns related to IEP implementation and special education policies and procedures. School and Family Support Services Hours of Operation