Advocacy, Mental Health, Personal Safety/Threat Assessment, Sustainable Living

Homeless Resources

Thanks to the person who posted this Eminem video, because “food stamps don’t buy diapers,” or toilet paper

http://www.primalsurvivor.net/survival-tricks-learned-from-homeless-people/

http://hubpages.com/politics/what_to_buy_if_you_are_homeless

http://www.momadvice.com/post/how-to-make-a-homeless-care-package-free-printable-supplies-list

I’m working on housing. Without going all “survivalist,” I am learning that there are things to do to stay warm, safe, and sane; all of which are relative. There are resources out there. Thinking outside the box is essential.

Thanks for reading.

Shari Elizabeth Berk

December 3, 2016

New Jersey

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Advocacy, Mental Health, Sustainable Living

What to Buy When all Your Food Stamps will Disappear in Four Days

http://momsbistro.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/pantry-essentials.pdf

A useful list. Thanks to the original poster.

Right. NC has cancelled my food stamps as of November 30, and NJ won’t process an application for food stamps until I have a physical address, proof of said address, and proof of rent and utility bills. So, how does someone who is homeless get access to government assistance for food stamps? I have no idea. Once I have an apartment, it will take 30 days after my application in NJ is processed for me to be eligible to get food stamps. Let’s not forget that I will get very little because I do not have children, and food stamps don’t buy toilet paper (to paraphrase Eminem)

So, I’m going to buy spices, canned goods (keep up, folks, this all has to fit in my car somehow) and coffee with a decent expiration date. I’m scouring Pinterest for decent lists. It’s amusing what some folks consider a “staple.” They are not living on my budget. It’s all amusing until one is homeless with a service dog, then it becomes an exercise in stamina and an ability to process absurd surrealism.

When I come up for air, I will blog just how much time and resources it takes to be homeless and to navigate the system, let alone qualify for resources. I’m keeping receipts.  I’ve been in the System so long that I have learned to keep documents and a paper trail. For some people, going off the grid appeals. To me, the paper trail keeps people somewhat accountable. Everything is relative.

I must acknowledge the folks who have done the “impossible,” and everyone who has supported me in the small but vital ways that inspire a determine to survive and … I have no clue what comes next. I make lists, I do what I can, I get overwhelmed and exhausted: I call people on my speed dial list, they get the world to stop spinning around me, I rest, then forge ahead. Not an oxymoron, I don’t find my situation ironic or “enlightening,” but I am blessed to have found Grace in the most unlikely people and places.

I hope the Thanksgiving holiday found you surrounded by people who love and respect you. Buddy and I appreciate your support. Thanks for stopping by.

Shari Elizabeth Berk

November 26, 2016

New Jersey

 

 

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Advocacy, Mental Health, Sustainable Living

For Those of You Playing the Home Game: Toll Plaza Camera Edition

 

With thanks to Arlo Guthrie for this timeless, and exceedingly timely, classic.

FML update: I apparently, supposedly, went through an ezpass lane and not a cash lane and Maryland wants $2.19 because they took a picture of my car putting that letter on the bottom of that pile of garbage. I reject their reality. I could be wrong, but I was pretty careful not to go through ezpass only lanes. I have every freaking receipt of every toll I paid driving form NC to NJ. I also have every receipt I have paid for food and gas and supplies just in case anyone cares to know what it costs to be homeless. I am on hold with SSA bc they can’t seem to update my address in a form that DSS finds acceptable. USAA sent mail claiming to cancel my renters policy, but did not bother to mention it was a discontinuation of service in NC and that I will receive more documentation that I am covered in NJ. I spent three hours on the phone getting myself covered by a health care plan in NJ. Have I mentioned that being disabled and homeless is a full time job? Yeah, this is what I wanted for my life, this is who I dreamed of being when I was a child. I absolutely intend to waste as much time as can with Maryland’s transit authority disputing their charge. Then, and only then, will I mail them a check for $2.19, which I hope costs them hundreds of dollars to process. And this, my friends, is your tax dollars at work. If you voted, good, and God bless, if you didn’t, you will get exactly what you deserve. End rant.

 

Shari Elizabeth Bek

November 21, 2016

New Jersey

 

 

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Advocacy, Mental Health

To the woman who commented “Noblesse oblige…” regarding a salute to Dorothea Dix

 

 

With appreciation to Peter Gabriel for this amazing orchestral version of Solsbury Hill.

 

Perhaps, but if you’ve ever been homeless (check,) on government assistance (check,) and attempted to navigate a convoluted inconsistent bureaucracy that has returned to an era of warehousing people who have mental health issues (check), you are often not at leisure to advocate on your own behalf. God bless the people in my life who have assisted me when I couldn’t speak for myself. I’ve educated enough psychiatric residents who have gone on to make more money in a year than I will make in my entire life because I was part of the “teaching hospital/public mental health” system. When someone steps up with a genuine compassion and desire to make things better, I don’t care what their background or economic status. I laud their actions, their attempts to effect change. The mental health system is broken beyond belief. Anyone who makes any effort at all to untangle the gordian knot is a hero to me.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

November 21, 2016

New Jersey

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Mental Health, Poetry

An Ode to Family and Survival (Happy Birthday Cousin Bruce)

 

Heavy heart suspended, we celebrate family.

Stalwart service dog and I mesmerized

by New York City skyline as the car weaves

towards the Lincoln Tunnel.

 

My cousins are angered by wayward GPS,

misdirected past the Holland Tunnel by fifty feet.

I have learned not to doubt my instincts

regardless of what the computers tell me.

 

Flawed by human programmers,

destined to become obsolete;

both the software and its designers.

Bustling Saturday night beckons.

 

I distrust adventure; put my faith in those I love.

Dazzled by a meal way beyond my means,

laughter and friendly conversation for which I have hungered.

My cousins teach me about basil vodka martinis:

 

Navigating Life beyond traffic.

The return trip takes thirty minutes as we hone home.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

November 13, 2016

New Jersey

 

 

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Advocacy, Mental Health, Personal Safety/Threat Assessment

On Public Accommodation for People with Invisible Disabilities, My Most Recent Experience with Intolerance, and a Call for Compassion (RIP, Leonard Cohen)

http://shahnawazpalace.com/

Shahnawaz Palace, 159 Jackson Ave, Edison, NJ 08831

This “private” restaurant has denied me and my service dog access to the restaurant on the grounds that it is (1) halal (2) a “private establishment filled with crowds and children.” I called the owner to explain my situation and to find out about accommodation. He hung up on me the first time, stating I was harassing him. I called back and asked him politely to explain his policy to me. He stated he is a private banquet facility and therefore not under government regulation to serve me if I attempt to bring my medical service dog into his restaurant. I think I decided I was done when he pulled the “I am Muslim” card. Yeah, and my relatives are Orthodox Jews and apparently, dogs are not unkosher (unless you eat them?) I understand that there is an “unclean” thing with Muslims and dogs, but Buddy is NOT a “pet.” He is a service animal. I was coached and counseled that if I was refused service, to invite establishments to call the police on me. I don’t roll that way.

I’m homeless, I’m a bit in shock (along with a bit of the USA and a good part of the rest of world; although I am learning that the USA is “rest of world”) and I just wanted to meet some new people and eat some great food.

As if the train wreck weren’t bad enough, now I am going to have to scream even louder to protect what rights I have left. I know many people are scared right now of this very thing for their own reasons. I have been dealing with this for years. Welcome to my world.

All I have is my voice. I try to keep the screaming (metaphorically and literally) to a minimum. Peaceful protest. But if you don’t call people out when they are as unjust as the people who they feel are persecuting them, the status quo remains.

Hate is a dangerous thing. I don’t know which is worse, which triggers which: hate or fear?

I will not hate. I am afraid. I won’t back down, but I will choose my battles.   Mr. Cohen, you picked a crap time to leave us. RIP.

Shari Elizabeth Berk

November 10, 2016

New Jersey

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Advocacy, Mental Health

On Truth, Transparency, and Integrity

 

with gratitude to Oysterband for the video.

 

In my world, “this” seems to be an issue. YMMV. I can name the psychiatrists I have told I was leaving and they do not believe me. Got a phone call this morning from Dr. Godwin’s office confirming my appointment. Call me whatever gets you paid, folks, but what sort of game do you really think I’m playing? One social worker in Virginia got it. He told me to forget about the bill, get away from Dan, and leave. I paid him in full. He saved my life (along with some friends and family who knew before I did how bad it was.) I will always be grateful. Dr. Godwin is so convinced her diagnosis is correct that facts are irrelevant. My father always taught me to look at the data. Look at someone’s behavior and history of behavior. Most people do not change. Some people, a very small percentage, make long lasting changes because they are motivated to change. Join the zebra club. No application necessary, it’s all self reporting. There are no dues, no meetings, you’re on your own. Use all the resources at your disposal to defy “their” conventions. Live with integrity. Be kind to people. Shock the system. You’ll never change them; like me, you may not be able to walk away from it. But don’t stop fighting the inefficiency, and hold them accountable when you can. Hold yourself accountable.

Self respect, folks. Today’s key to survival. And vote, damnit!

Officially a resident of the Garden State. God Bless New Jersey. Thanks for reading.

 

Shari Elizabeth Berk

November 8, 2016

New Jersey

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