It was a bit of a cold and damp week in South County. As always, though, there was a lot going on.
As I was about town, I got a chance to talk to a few of the regulars on Street Corners. The old Veteran was at his old station continuing to ask for help. When I went up to talk to him and asked him how things were, his only comment to me was, “the man up there will take care of things…”. I wanted to again ask whether he had gone up to the One Stop Center. I also told him about a Security Job Opportunity that I saw that he could potentially qualify for. I thought about whether he qualified for any help such as Social Security, Medicare and some of the other services. If I saw him again, I would ask him and see whether he had taken advantage of it. I am sure that he would probably tell me about the horror stories of the VA. What I would be especially curious especially as there has been a national crusade to get rid of even the absolute minimums of social services that the Government tries to provide and really see what else is at hand.
There was, of course, the other regular further down south. I have seen him off and on for about a year and a half now. When I first talked to him, he noted how he was out of work for almost three years and was living in his car. He had resorted to this because he could not literally get anything else. I had shared resources like 211.org and the One Stop Center hoping that he would take advantage of it. When I talked to him, I told him about this Security Job out in Fullerton. As we talked, I asked him how he was doing. He told me that he had found someone that gave him a place to sleep and some place to store his car. He did not some work for the gentleman in lieu of it. But, he had resorted to periodic handouts and in essence acting as a day laborer.
I continued on to get a sense of how he was coping. Although he was trying to keep a positive, upbeat attitude, the anguish clearly showed. I asked whether he took advantage of the Y for his daily hygiene. He noted that the Y charged $ 4 a day for it. He also talked about the fact that he could not even get his clothes washed because he had no where to wash his clothes. I asked him how he ate. He told me that he bought Stouffers that cost him about $ 8 a day. I told him about Treasure Box that cost $ 30 a Box that allowed him to sustain himself for up to 30 days. I also asked about 211.Org. He told me that he had contacted them, but they were not in a position to help him.
I was not too surprised about the fact that 211.Org could not help. They are stretched thin, just like everyone else. With what has happened at the State Level, there is no guarantee about anything I suppose. The predicament of these two brave souls again took me back to some of the debates that has been going on during the campaign. I thought about the Queen of the Tea Party, Sharon Angle. I caught glimpses of her act on TV and realized that either she had no clue about the plight on Main Street. Cries of being Free are wonderful. I continue to wonder what Ms. Angle would say to these brave souls as she continues to advocate the dismantling of the very minimal social safety net. This is as she has been raising record amounts of money.
Although I was glad to see Bill Clinton in Southern California stumping for Congresswoman Sanchez and the Democratic ticket , I continue to wonder whether the ordinary people truly matter in the nascent power grab that is going on. I continue to see the reports of Republicans doing a full sweep at the Federal, State and Local levels. Will the voices of these poor souls who have no where to go and nothing to turn to be continue to be lost in the shuffle? Will they continue to be subjected to the empty rhetoric of Freedom without the responsibility and accountability that comes with it? Will the Republicans who actually do win let go of their ideological baggage and figure out that they have to govern for the sake of all Americans–including those voices from Street Corners who have as much right as anyone else?
I continue to believe and continue to have faith.Â Â Â Although that faith is shaken at times, I still push on because the story continues on…..