Orientation was familiarizing me to the 14 Level Reintegration Program. It also helped me face the trials & extreme stresses I endured that initailly brought me to the SWVBRC.
I became a victim of the economy like so many before me & had lost my job at the end of February & at the time, had immediately filed for unemployment the same day I lost my job. I waited the 10 days that it would take to process my claim & then received a letter from EDD that I was entitled to receive unemployment benefits.
They sent me my cards & I filled them out & mailed them, all the while, spending hours daily at my computer earching for a job. When I was supposed to receive my first check, it never came. I tried countless numbers of times to contact EDD by phone & was unable to reach them. All I got was a recording saying "We're currently receiving more calls than we can take, please try again later." This became extremely frustrating as I attempted to contact them daily, only to get the same thing, over & over again. In the meantime, I had enough savings to get my daugter & I through the next 2 months before it was all gone.
I resorted to going to food banks for food, applying for General Assistance & got denied, I was sending e-mails to the President's office & the Governor's office too. I explained my plight & never recieved any response from the President's office, & only got a generic e-mail back from the Governor's office telling me to keep calling EDD & that they know they're understaffed & had hired new people to answer phones, even though I NEVER got through.
I was frustrated & scared (even though it was early April), because I've never been homeless before & thought I might be facing that if I couldn't make rent for May. I learned of a website on the local news that was featured, which was called "Wish Upon A Hero" & thought I'd give it a try. I posted my wish & hoped that someone out there would be "a Hero" for us. I was willing to do anything & everything I could in order to keep a roof over my daughter's head. That prompted someone who replied to my plea on "Wish Upon A Hero" to send out my e-mail to 70+ contacts he knew. One of those contacts & e-mails went to Albert Renteria at the SWVBRC.
At the end of April I learned that I had been disqualified for 8 weeks & that was the reason I hadn't received my unemployment benefit payments. I had never recieved any notification & never knew until I called a lady at the State Employment office. By the end of April, I had completed the 8 week disqualification period & then I had to wait the 10 days, before finally receiving a $25 check that was only the stimulus payment. (My first unemployment benefits payment is finally going to be mailed before the end of May.) At this point, I had received a 3-day letter (since I was going to be late with rent) from the property management office at my apt. complex & I was scared to death that we were going to be evicted. The property management office did give us an extension which helped buy us time in order to get rent together.
Within that time, Albert Renteria had contacted me & I had been corresponding with him via e-mail & finally went to Orientation & was hoping he'd be able to help me. Also within that time, I went to the VA at the Federal Building & got some help there too. I hadn't previously known that my daughter had been taken off as my dependent when she turned 18, even though she started college 3 days later. I was able to get someone at the Veterans Svcs. Division to help me & fight for me, by getting her back on as my dependent, getting me back my disability benefits that I had lost out on retroactively, re-open the increase for my disabilities (which had previously been denied), & get me signed up for Vocational Rehab as well. It seemed like things were finally starting to change, even though it felt like it took forever.
Also within that time, my daughter, Karyn, applied for a student loan at school & was able to get it, so we not only made rent, we were able to pay some bills that I had to make wait so we could keep a roof over our heads. At the beginning of May, I received my back pay on my disability benefits, & that too, went to paying bills. Going to Orientation helped pick me up off the ground when it felt like everything was crashing down around me. I thought that all hope was lost & that God hated me & was making us suffer like this. It was only after I signed the Articles of Agreement that I felt things were going to be ok & that I could finally sleep at night & not have to worry about whether I'll be able to keep us afloat.
I hope anyone reading this is inspired by what we went through & will help others who have been or have found themselves in the same situation that we were in, & find a glimmer of hope that all is not lost, & where there's a will, there's always a way.