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Sunday, May 24, 2009 20:22 | Norma Pearson
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.


  • Sunday, May 24, 2009 17:46 | Karyn
    Hi mom, it's me. I am posting on your blog. Haha. Anyway, I really hope we can rally up all the support for this 14-step program so we can get you back to work and we can be on our feet again. Honestly, I hate watching you struggle and feeling powerless to help you. At least with the student loans I didn't feel so useless like I usually do. But I really want to see you suceed and do well--no, BETTER than well. I want you to be AWESOME. So we're just starting now, it's going to be an uphill climb from here on out. Let's not forget the hiking gear, and make sure we reach the summit. Love you, mommy! Be awesome and fight on! And remember, NEVER FAIL. REFUSE TO FAIL.
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:01 | Norma Pearson
      I know it's uphill from here - after we hit rock bottom, there's only one way to go - up. Thanks for your support & for being a great daughter.
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  • Monday, May 25, 2009 08:53 | Eleanor Tobias
    Reading your blog, I could only imagine your complete distress and feelings of futility! It definately is an inspiration to anyone who reads it. And, I was particularly impressed by Karyn's comment! What a wonderful daughter you have raised! And, she will obviously be a great supporter in your future endeavors.

    I salute you and your future! REFUSE TO FAIL!!
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:07 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind comment. I've done the best I can in trying to raise my daughter with good morals & values. I think her being an Army brat helped her with the self discipline she has now. I've raised her as a single parent since she was 6 & am doing the best I can. It's when times get hard that I question myself & whether I'm doing what's best for her. But, it's also because I'm responsible for her & not just myself, that I reached out for help, & here I am today. It took a lot of strength, tears & prayers. I'm not one to give up easily, & I don't intend to - not wiothout a fight!
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  • Monday, May 25, 2009 14:28 | Chris Thayer
    Hello Norma and welcome to SWVBRC. I applaud that you are very resourceful and did everything possible to help yourself and your daughter. It doesn’t take much to fall behind in this economy and that’s why we all need to help one another. I’m so glad you were referred you to SWVBRC and Albert Renteria. I continue to learn what the word “resource” in Southwest Veterans Business RESOURCE Center means. So many veterans do not know what benefits they are entitled to and sometimes just accept the first “no” to their questions instead of pressing on. We are here to encourage and help you to press on. Mr. Renteria is really good at providing the tools and resources for all of us to stand up, to feel encouraged and not give up. It helps when caring people want to help also and I love that the SWVBRC community and veterans are working together for success for each veteran, now and for the future.

    God Bless you and your daughter Karyn. Do keep us posted on how you are doing and remember to believe in yourself. We really do care. Blessings, Chris (Christine)

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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:15 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind comments. I'm doing my best to better our situation & it's been difficult, but, I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's just not within reach yet. There have been many obstacles along the way & I'm doing my best to overcome them or find the best way to overcome them. Reaching out to the SWVBRC has helped pave the way in getting to where I need to be. It's nice to know that there are people who care & believe in me & that's what's helped give me strength & the courage to drive on & never give up!
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  • Saturday, May 30, 2009 16:26 | Carol Grice
    Dear Norma,
    I will begin my message to you with this remark. Tough times don't last. Tough people do.
    So young lady, after reading your story I am of the opinion that you are one tough lady and will indeed get your head above water.
    I noted in your profile that your MOS in the Army was that of a Medical Specialist. I would suggest you consider exploring that area, as the health care industry are crying for help in all areas. And they are numerous. I have determined from reading your blog, you are intelligent as well as very attractive. You would be a winner in the health care field, and likely have patients eating out of your hand. A bit of information you might not be aware of is by the year of 2012 the nursing shortage in the US will be over 400,000. It might not be a profession you wish to pursue, but might be something to tide you over until you can again look for employment in what field you currently prefer.
    You stated you have a disability and that may cause you to think you would not be able to function in the health care field. Be aware, there are a number of different fields that do not require physical endurance if that would be a problem for you. In my early years of Nursing, physical strength was a must. I remember as a student nurse, a very large lady said to me as I was dragging her out of bed, "I know you are little, but I'm sure you are strong". That thinking no longer exists. Now when a patient needs to be moved, all beepers on the ward go off and everyone is alerted that moving help is needed in a certain room. I guess someone got the idea that putting little but so called strong student nurses in traction for back injuries was not in their best interest. So today the medical field is much kinder. And of course there are such things as learning how to be a lab tech, x-ray tech, etc. You can do it and you might even like it. And I would be proud to welcome you to the field that I have loved since age 18.
    Guess I have been windy enough for now. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you and be assured of one thing. God loves you as he loves all of us.
    I remain your faithful servant. Carol
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:25 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind comments. When I got out of the Army, I did try to go back into the medical field, but, was unable to, because of my disability. My wrist injury is permanent damage & I've lost a lot of strength & range of motion. Going from the medical field to IT was better as I didn't have to do a lot of the physical demands that being a Medical Specialist had on me. It's also a field that I enjoy working in & is rewarding as well. However, in this economy, those who have their certifications or a degree, (even though they have little or no experience) tend to be hired on first, but, at a lower rate. I have 8 years of experience in IT & am going to be taking advantage of my benefits with the VA's Vocational Rehab & go back to school under Chapter 31 & get my degree & MCSE. I already have the experience & that's all I need to get me going. Even if I can't get hired on someplace else, it'll give me the opportunity to go into business for myself & provide a necessary service that the public & private sector need. Besides, I hear the boss is pretty cool & that's what counts! :-)
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  • Sunday, May 31, 2009 08:50 | Jeffrey Backus
    Ms Pearson, Welcome to the Business Resource Center's. Thank you for your service to our country. I too had my share of frustrations with the EDD, keep at it and hopefully, they will come through with your earned benefits. I am looking forward to reading more of your story. Please have a look at the USA Jobs website, and also the Navy CHART (google them), there are usually several IT jobs on there. Also, look at the post in the registered only section for other links to job search sites.
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:29 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for the warm welcome. Believe it or not, I've been registered with USAJobs for a little over a year now & it's one of my daily job search sites. The biggest hurdles I have to overcome there is that I need my certifications & I have to be a GS7 or higher, which I'm not. They don't make it easy for those of us to get jobs at that level, but, it hasn't stopped me from applying! The worst thing they can say is "no" & I'm not going to stop until I get a "yes" or until I can go into business for myself!
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  • Thursday, June 04, 2009 03:48 | Roger Reed
    Hi Norma and welcome aboard. I am a SWVBRC Learner as well at the SWVBRC and look forward to meeting with you and hearing how things are going for you. I have taken a bit of time to help document with videos and photos the progress and challeges that we at the SWVBRC face in our ongoing efforts to progress, effect change and lead other Veterans in the path to prosper in these uncertain times. Like Carol Grice said to you earlier Tough Times Don't Last, Tough People DO!! Well that is the exact nature of who we are as Veterans, am I right??!!?? Hope you are doing fine now and at the next workshop or event we will meet. Take care of your family and yourself.
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:34 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind comments & the warm welcome. I know tough times don't last, & I'm doing my best to be as tough as I can. Hopefully, the next workshop will be closer to home for me so I can attend. In this economy & with the price of gas on the rise again, it makes it hard to go anywhere that's non-essential. At this point, there's only one way to go - up. And although it's been a rocky climb, I'm moving slowly, but, forward & gathering all the strength I have to drive on until I reach the top, where the end of the tunnel is within reach!
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  • Saturday, June 06, 2009 07:47 | Frances Lowe
    I would like to add my belated welcome to SWVBRC and say that you have taken a giant step forward on that road to a better tormorrow. I know exactly where you are coming from and understand the the frustration you are feeling. Just know that we are all here to help you and as you follow the program you will see the light clearly on the path you should follow.
    Keep the faith and let me know how I can help you.
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    • Sunday, June 07, 2009 05:38 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind comments. It's nice to know that I'm not alone & others know & understand the frustration & struggles I've been facing. I'm doing my best to follow the program & have had some big obstacles along the way, but, I'm trying my best to overcome them, remain focused on the task I have before me & keep the faith at the same time!
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  • Tuesday, June 09, 2009 06:33 | Daniel Boothe
    Norma, it is these struggles that makes us who we are. I was inspired my self to read about your trials and tribulations and want you to know if I can every do anything don't hesitate to ask. It is this unparralled support the center offers that makes us so unique. And I am a FIRM beleiver in "where there is a will, there is most definitley a way!"
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    • Thursday, June 11, 2009 17:35 | Norma Pearson
      Thank you for your kind words. I apologize for the late reply, I thought I had replied to all of them, but, somehow missed your post & wanted to reply to all of the comments that were left.

      I do believe that where there's a will there's always a way. I may have to find another way to find it, but, taking the time to find it & finding a way around it or to overcome it, makes a person that much stronger & a littler bit wiser too.
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  • Thursday, June 25, 2009 08:06 | Tim Richardson

    Sometimes when life is the bleakest, the sun shines through and helps us find our way back onto the path. Reading your story, confirms to me why I am here, to help other Vets who have been kicked in the teeth, but aren't giving up. I know that you will be OK and that most things happen for a reason, mostly to teach us something about ourselves. My guess is that you have found out that you are a lot tougher than you thought that you were and your daughter found out what a great Mom she has. I look forward to following your climb to the top. Don't let anyone tell you you can't make it, because you can.

    All the best,

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    • Saturday, July 04, 2009 17:04 | Norma Pearson
      Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry it took a little while to get back to you. I've been trying to get through the tough times & it's not been easy, but, I'm not a quitter & I'm not giving up either. I know that everything happens for a reason, but, it'd be nice to know what the reasons are in the first place! The economy is still in the toilet & things aren't getting any better jobwise, not only for me, but, for others who have found themselves in the same situation. This recession has taken its toll on me as well as everyone else who have lost their jobs too. They say that employment is the last to recover from a recession & with unemployment numbers going higher every month, it makes it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, I brought a flashlight, so to speak. I'm going to find my way out, one way or another. On that note, I hope you had a safe & very Happy 4th of July!

      Take care & God Bless,

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  • Wednesday, October 14, 2009 07:33 | Laurel Ho
    Hello Norma,
    I want to finally welcome you to S.W.V.B.R.C. I have been away from the blogs for a while so I apologize. Your story really touched my heart and particularly the blog from you Daughter. Karyn sounds like a wonderful Daughter who really love's her Mom. It seems you have done a wonderful job in that department so I trust you will do good at where life takes you next.I hope you continue to keep us updated on your progress and let us know how you got to this point. Take care and we are here for you.
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  • Sunday, January 17, 2010 11:36 | Jami Price
    Welcome Norma... You have an amazing story. I look forward to reading your future blogs....

    Jami Price
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