Daily thoughts – a latebloomer’s dream, a free makeover :)

It is only very recently that I started to appreciate make up. Not that I ever hated them, its just that I grew up with 4 brothers so it was nothing that every sparked my interest. But with the advent of social media and most of my girlfriends posting photos of themselves all dolled and glamorous that i thought of trying it out. I have to admit now Im part of the growing cult of Sephora fans / make up junkies. I confess that it kinda spiraled out of control that I found myself as a sephora vib rouge in just a span of 3 months. Some people may not understand what that means but it basically is just a hierarchy categorizing those who buy a ton of stuff from this store lol.  Anyway, this post will be short because this is not really a beauty blog just an online journal of my fun experiences including my first make over experience. So today I had my paid time off and I used it wisely by scheduling my VIB rouge privilege of getting a free makeover and personalized private one on one session. Here is a link to check out the benefits of being in their rewards program.

Here is Julia my beauty consultant for the day. She is really pretty by the way and i loved her subtle but dramatic make up.  I asked if she could make me pretty just like her.  She is holding what they call a color IQ. I dont remember at the top of my head what it does but basically it helps them find out the best shade for you. Check this link out for more information in case you are interested.

She was super nice and very articulate and made my first makeover experience truly memorable and fun. She first asked me what products i usually use for my daily regimen and what kind of look i wanted to go for. So i said typically i used Shiseido but ive also tried a bunch of other things because i often get samplers curated by sephora in their sets. She was impressed about my extensive knowledge and enthusiasm haha. i told her how i became a vibrouge in just 3 months and she was amused lol. I also shared how I grew up not really using make up but now i cannot imagine how i made it through life without it. She recommended some items she personally think are good based on skin type. I have oily skin but I dont really want the whole matte look. So she picked up the following to prep my skin.

Julia used the Sunday Riley Martian Toner , the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder for gentle exfoliation and for the moisturizer the Algenist Splash Hydration. I dont remember the eye cream she used but it was from the Dior line. After she prepped my skin, we exchanged thoughts on what products we like. She personally finds Sunday Riley good and I had to agree and tipped her on trying out their balm to remove make up. I said Ive been using different brands because like i said i have tried samplers and i have algenist as one of my sleeping masks too. I typically use oil of olay for my eye cream, clinique for my daily moisturizer and during the day when I have to go to work Olay complete with spf 15. But at home I indulge in a little bit of everything like origins, sunday riley, algenist, caudalie, shiseido, givenchy. For toners I usually use clinique for my oily skin every other day, but my daily toner is the Thayers witch Hazel which i get from Amazon.

She used the Laura Mercier primer before putting on foundation. I dont really use primer except for my smashbox eyeshadow primer, so she explained to me the benefits of using it. What i liked about this experience was how smooth and spontaneous it all was. she didnt sound like she was trying to convince me to buy all the stuff she used on my face but i was convinced anyway. Her tip on setting the base was in this order :  primer, foundation, translucent powder, then bronzer and blush afterwards. There was a system in place and explanation why things were in that order. She explained that the primer holds the foundation and the translucent powder sorts of hold everything in place. She also gave me tips on how to use a corrector for my undereye dark shadows and how to apply concealer. I couldnt really remember all the info and products but its great I got the basics during this experience. I also have her card in case I have more questions. 

I decided to go for the smoky eye look since I havent tried that before. She started with a smashbox shadow primer on my lid, then went for the lightest shadow first, and put most of it on the brow bone, followed by the next darker shade of shadow mostly for the area where the eye socket starts. she used a transition shadow on that part of my lid and explained to me that the color had to gradually get darker as it goes closer to the lid closest to my eyelashes. She blended the colors on the lid afterwards then used a dark pencil on the lashline and smudged it with a brush. She said thats the beauty of going for the smoky look. you need not worry about defining a line because its meant to be smudged. she also used some of the shadow subtly on the lower part of my eye and blended it.  She used an Anastasia brow pencil to draw an outline of my brows and filled it in with the same pencil and brushed it with the accompanying brush from the pencil. It was quick yet perfect. She used nars for the blush and becca powder to highlight the brow bone and the corners of the eye. For the lips i forgot what brand she used but when i got home i completed the look with the free nars cruella lip pencil i got in the mail.

I am beyond pleased with the results. This is how you get people hooked with these products though showing them that they can potentially look great too 🙂

 

 

Daily thoughts – 2016 what a year

i spent most of the year living instead of talking about it which in a sense is great. but sometimes its fun to look back at posts about what you did the entire year with matching photos. id like to try to get my groove back and blog again. i truly miss it and i love sharing the cool things ive seen, experienced, tried over the past few months.  we have also moved to a different part of New York and despite my previous apprehensions, im kinda enjoying this part of the city. The rent is lower, i wont say cheaper because its takes half of my paycheck but its slightly bigger and finally there is a bedroom that albeit the very restricted size, has been my piece of heaven in this noisy cluttered part of the world. we moved in the summer of this year and that was a real pain because of course aside from the costs involved, we had to do everything ourselves like haul our shit. But with a little help from family and friends, we managed to make it less painful as possible. So yeah im very happy to sign a 2 year lease in our little slice of the apple in the Bronx. I hope this coming new year will allow me  more time to share stories, adventures and just random thoughts as always about life, cats, food, running and what nots. Ive also finally delved into what it will take for me to get into NYAA (new york academy of arts). Ive been working on a little project that i could use in my portfolio to get that scholarship grant ive been gunning for. for the most part though my drawings are usually passengers in the subway. i havent really had the time to spend an entire day just sketching or painting like i want to. most of the time, i spend the weekends just being lazy.

Just the same, i really am looking forward to an exciting new year and I cant wait to start sharing a little bit of my recent experiences and whatever comes to mind. I will also post reviews about beauty products ive tried. This is not a beauty blog though even i admit i am a bit crazy with my enthusiasm when it comes to beauty products. i have no intentions of doing vlogs or big fluffly and overly detailed reviews but ill just write my own personal unbiased account of what products i thought id buy again and are worth that splurge.  So yey its exciting to be back and i hope i can do this regularly at least once a week to catch up 🙂

Hoping for a Happier Healthier New Year =)

i havent had the time, energy nor enthusiasm to write anything worthwhile on this blog for the past couple of months. but that doesnt mean life has been entirely uneventful. some events i consider somewhat awesome. Among other things, I reunited with my bestfriend who I havent seen in 6 years last June. I got to see Elvis Presley’s hometown and actual house also during that trip. i adopted a dog from a shelter at Teaneck NJ last July. I won my appeal vs my abusive ex boss in August (WOOHOO). Finally landed a job in Sept. Havent missed a day of work the last couple of months (today ended that amazing streak) and enjoyed the closing of the year 2013 without much drama from unwanted people in my life. And most importantly, me and my husband lost weight not because we exercised more but we decided to follow a healthier smarter lifestyle. We feel better, look better and are very much happier now. And honestly no tub of highcalorie extra creamy ice cream, topped with chocolate syrup and candy sprinkles, can ever beat looking and feeling good because of making that smart choice to say no to being fat.

last year was a happy great one. Looking forward to a better, healthier happier new year in 2014=)

An open letter to Secretary Eric Shinseki, the VA and proponents of the SSVF program

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

Greetings. First of all, I respectfully applaud your efforts in coming up with programs designed to somehow make the lives of veterans and their families a little easier. One such program is the SSVF that Ive familiarize myself with. I have even read the program guide because I was eager to know more about it. It was however because of an unfortunate turn of events that made me do so and not because of mere interest.

The mission statement on the VA website is impressive. I really want to convince myself that its true.  In fact that was the main reason I felt confident that our lives were in good hands. After I called the VA hotline, I was thanking the Lord that this could be it. Me and my husband assumed that we have finally found something legitimate to help us in our year long dilemma of finding our own home.

But after 2 months of communicating with one of the SSVF grantees that was recommended to us by VA, I just feel worn out, frustrated, depressed and just stuck in a limbo. Dealing with these people is a nightmare that I dont wish anyone else would experience. It is already enough that we are on the brink of being homeless. It is additionally  nerve wracking to communicate with Program Directors and Case Workers who refuse to answer our questions and really help us.

Why are we being subjected to this kind of treatment when the VA website specifically and proudly claims ” SSVF grants promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants can have an immediate impact, helping lift Veterans out of homelessness or providing aid in emergency situations that put Veterans and their families at risk of homelessness. ”

And the VA have this to say about Grantees :

“Grantees provide a range of supportive services to very low-income Veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing, including case management, legal assistance, financial counseling, transportation, child care, rent, utilities and other services aimed at preventing homelessness”

It is disheartening to personally experience the real threat that anytime we could be kicked out of our temporary home. I have relayed this information to the organization whose help we sought. We have painstakingly and patiently tried to work with them. But the whole thing seemed more an ordeal than a relief because getting any kind of real assistance from these people is almost remote. They give you the run around, stonewall and worse misinform and lead you blindly. They waste each precious day sitting on our file and wait while we exhaust our limited resources, patience and even sanity before they provide even the basic courtesy to reply to an email.

Ive emailed a Program Director who did not respond to me in 6 days. I sent him a follow up email until he finally replied to me. And on his response, he said he would get back to me either at the end of the day or early the following day as the latest. It is 1pm that Im writing this letter. I have been up since 9 this morning fervently hoping for an answer. As always, I have not received anything   to alleviate my fears.

I dont know what to do anymore. We are about to be evicted and we have tried for almost 3 months to get help from this SSVF grantee but sadly to no avail. We might even lose the apartment we applied for.  The thought of being homeless is emotionally and psychologically taxing.

This message is for you to know that the testimonials of those who are not heard are important too. Because there might even be more of us out there, unfortunately some people may not have the means or time to articulate those thoughts.  Please understand our plight and we humbly ask you speak to those who run this program to carefully evaluate before providing funds to these grantees. It is such a huge waste of taxpayers’ dime if the grant ends up in the wrong hands. If such organizations cannot help people like us who need this financial assistance badly, then they should desist from acquiring funds from the government. These funds could otherwise be of better use to another grantee who sincerely want to help.

Incompetence should not be rewarded otherwise it only perpetuates an ugly cycle that yields nothing but failure.

It is disgraceful that people who have served this country have to endure this kind of treatment. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Sincerely yours,

An unfairly treated citizen, her husband and 2 cats.

 

Delayed, denied?

Its been 6 days and I still havent heard from our case worker or her manager. A couple of days ago, I spoke to our case worker who was helping us out with finding an apartment. Actually it was the broker who did most of the helping.  The thought of being homeless is terrifying. Its like our lives are being held by a very thin thread here and we have no choice but to wait and wait until someone gets back to us with an answer. This is a nightmare. I cannot relax and all I can think of is what are we going to do next? Are they going to call us back? Will they be helping us or refer us again to another set of people? What the fuck is going on really???? Im getting really frustrated with this. If I dont call I wont know what the hell is going on. And now even if I do call or try to reach these basturds, they totally ignore me. they seem to want to just want to give us the shaft.

UNDERSERVICE FOR THOSE WHO SERVED

On February 2013, I called the Veterans Affairs to ask for housing assistance. We have been hesitant to resort to seek any form of government help because we have an aversion to “begging” especially if we can avoid it. But it was time to swallow our pride. I lost my job recently and I was just tired of dealing with online crooks while looking for an apartment.

Looking for an apartment in NYC is very challenging and frustrating. You will be overwhelmed by teeming scammers online trying to swindle people. I wound up checking ads and getting responses from people asking for downpayment but the owner just isnt available to meet us. They would say they are too busy and will just mail us the keys after we wire them the payment. On top of that they would attach photos on their ads enticing potential applicants with an image of a nice looking apartment. But after you look it up on google maps, something is just amiss. The position of the window for instance just seem impossible especially if it is located on the side where another separate apartment is. In short there is a wall dividing the two properties so there is no way the one we are interested in will have a window on the wall of the adjacent apartment.

It has been one disappointment after another that led us to check alternative ways of getting an apartment from trustworthy sources. I figured that probably the Department of Veterans can give us some recommendations. I called VA 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) HOTLINE and the next day I received a callback from a lady who gave me several numbers to call. I called all the numbers she gave me and it was a bit exasperating. There was the automated phone, then there were those who kept giving the run around.

Finally, I did get a live person who instructed me to call this organization called Services for the Underserved. I called them right away and spoke to the officer in charge Mr Adam. He arranged for me and my husband to meet up with them at their Brooklyn office. He said he would assign a case worker who will be assisting us. In the interim before our scheduled appointment, I checked the SUS website. The testimonials and information on their site made me feel confident that we found the right people.

On their website under the Veterans tab, the SSVF mission statement stood out:

Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

The Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program (SSVF), a critical element of the VA’s plan to prevent and end Veteran homelessness, delivers short-term rapid rehousing and homeless prevention services to homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. Program services are designed to promote long-term housing stability and include outreach, care coordination, home finding, assistance in obtaining VA and other public benefits, and making financial assistance payments on behalf of Veterans for purposes such as rent payments, utility payments, security deposits, and moving costs.

We showed up on our scheduled appointment and were warmly welcomed by the case worker, one veteran staff and Adam. We were even offered hot drinks. Our case worker went on to discuss how SUS can help us find an apartment in the shortest time possible. We thought, this is really great. We were glad that VA has taken serious steps to take care of its veterans especially those with issues of finding housing. The case worker was really pleasant and seemingly well-informed. She also offered other help like finding a job and gave me a stack of paper for low-cost apartments. We explained to her our situation and our dire need to get an apartment soon. We were told that we needed to submit some documents and after we have been considered eligible, they will hook us up with brokers to find a feasible apartment and eventually help us with the start-up costs. We left the required paperwork with them .

When we left their office, we were brimming with excitement and hope that we will find a home soon. A couple of days after our meeting,we corresponded via email with the case worker and she requested for extra paperwork which we promptly sent back.

We also received soft documents through email that required the veteran/applicant signature. Among the documents is a disclosure agreement allowing SUS to give our information to the brokers. We signed the documents and sent it back. Also, one of these documents was an outline of what the case worker’s goals are in handling our case. The target date for completion or review was noted as February 28, 2013. The next review and Plan update noted as May 15, 2013.

She also went on to explain to us how it works.

Its okay.  Based on your application entries, I will attempt to locate a broker/managing agent in your area of interest.  They will ask to speak with you all.  They will schedule apartment viewings.  Credit, most likey, will be screened.  The application for an apartment is reviewed by the managing agents/brokers/landlords.  Once a feasible place is located and the application is approved, the broker/managing agent/landlord will request housing start up costs (i.e., advanced rent, security deposit, and broker’s fee).

After a couple of weeks, we received a list of brokers from our case worker. I called each of them and introduced myself. I had to name drop SUS a couple of times so that they would know I’m calling under the VA/SSVF program. They seem all helpful although out of the 4 brokers I contacted only one was helpful in giving me a heads up on any available apartments and the ideal time to view it. The rest told me they will call me back but never did. I called the broker every week to check if he had something for us. He told me he would call once there was.

Around this time I was starting to get impatient and worried because the weeks were about to stretch to 2 months and we havent even covered anything substantial to make us conclude if we will get an apartment soon. I echoed my sentiments to the case worker.

Good afternoon. I just wanted to update you on my conversation with the brokers. I haven’t heard from any of them as of today. Mr G said he will contact me once he finds an apartment for us. Another lady Ms S said she will do the same. But that was a week ago. I was kinda hoping they were gonna show us some apartments this week while my husband is on spring break. It has been over a month since we spoke personally with you and we do appreciate the help and all but we really are in need of getting an apartment soon. I hope you can relay my message to the brokers too whether they can help us or not so we know whether we need to look elsewhere for assistance. Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you.

We received an email from her and she told us that finding an apartment is a concerted effort from the applicant, broker and the case worker.

Her email :

I am so sorry that you all are not getting the response you expected. I have spoken to many brokers on your behalf. Housing search is not an easy task. However, it is an effort made by all of us together. You are more than welcome to search for assistance elsewhere. If so, please let us know. Would you like for me to provide you with any referrals?

Sure she had the right to be defensive. But I think it was understandable how I felt. It has been a month and a half since we spoke to her. None of the brokers were calling me with a follow-up although I made an effort to get in touch with them. I was simply getting upset and worried that we may have been forgotten. I let her know we will wait for the brokers to call and then update her. We decided that we have waited already this long so we might as well pursue the application. It just didn’t make sense to start from scratch and send paperwork again knowing it takes forever before we would get some concrete response.

After a couple of weeks, one of the brokers finally called me. He set up a view date. However on the day before that schedule I did not receive his call to confirm. I called him the following week and he told me he was just waiting for me to call him back. We set another date to view the apartment. He also stressed that if he couldn’t be there physically to accommodate us, the super is aware we will be coming.  He even arranged for one of the apartment to be open so we can just walk in and inspect the place. We made it to the scheduled place and time and met the super of the building. Fortunately, the broker  managed to show up and even took us to another building to view an apartment.

During this time, I sent emails to our case worker to let her know what was going on. She replied and wished us luck.

We did find an apartment we liked and I informed our case worker about it right away. I even told her that there is an application fee of 100, which is honestly a big deal for us. She said that such non related rent fees are not covered by SUS/SSVF.

Her email :

Unfortunately, the national SSVF Program prohibits grantees from paying dues, fees, or at this time. If you are interested in a specific unit, please discuss with broker/managing agent/landlord to see if a payment arrangement can be made.

So I shelled out the application fee and hoped for the best. Later on I brought up the issue of the financial assistance (start-up cost) she offered during our meeting at their Brooklyn office.

She replied:

Good morning.

You are welcome.

Temporary financial assistance is not a required service of SSVF. Supportive services grant funds should only be used as direct financial assistance as a last resort. You all should first explore the available homeless and mainstream financial assistance options. Below is a list of resources that may be able to assist you all in housing start up costs (i.e., one month’s rent, security deposit, broker’s fee):

1. Michael J. Handy Veterans Job Center, 25 Chapel Street, Suite 606, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 473-8313

2. call 311

3. East Harlem Neighborhood-Based Alliance Corporation, 2253 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10035, (212) 289-1900

4. Catholic Charities, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022, (212) 371-1000

5. www.nyc.gov

6. Community Service Society, (212) 254-8900

7. Legal Aid Society (Lower Manhattan), 199 Water Street, New York, New York 10038, (212) 440-4300

8. NYC DHS VSU, 40 Flatbush Avenue Extension, 8th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 439-4371

My heart sank. It seems they aren’t willing to REALLY HELP US. Not, until we have exhausted other means. Whatever happened to “we will work together”? The truth rears its ugly head when its time for them to offer the real service that we truly needed. It’s like an insurance company. Everything is swell until you file a claim. They wanted us to go look for help somewhere and only come back to SUS if all fails. Seriously? WTF.

After I received this email I researched online and found out that VA does encourage SSVF grantees to explain to applicants to explore other options and use the SSVF funds as a last resort).

Snippets related to this matter of Temporary Financial Assistance:

From VA website:

2. Eligible Temporary Financial Assistance

Grantees may choose to provide temporary financial assistance to participants, but it is not a required service. Supportive services grant funds should only be used as direct financial assistance as a last resort, after first exploring the available homeless and mainstream financial assistance options such as Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program assistance and TANF. Grantees may choose to provide temporary financial assistance as a supplement to services provided to a participant as part of a plan to increase the participant‘s housing stability. Per 38 CFR 62.34, eligible forms of temporary financial assistance are:

 Rental assistance;

 Utility-fee payment assistance;

 Deposits (security or utility);

 Moving costs;

 Purchase of emergency supplies for a participant;

 Transportation; and

 Child care.

The sectioned part of the same article on this link states:

homelessness

Her email to me almost seem verbatim lifted out of the same document. Unfortunately, she never discussed any of this to us, until now. We were told before we left that building that they will help us with the start-up cost whatever it may be. There was nothing mentioned ever about us having to go call a list of other numbers or “after first exploring the available homeless and mainstream financial assistance”.

They are aware that it is not that simple to just call an organization and demand for financial help and expect to get it pronto. Besides, this list of people don’t even know our situation and story. They don’t have any of our paperwork. Do I have to repeat myself all over and go through the long arduous process of submitting documents and waiting for a callback to let us know we qualify?

But despite my disgust and annoyance over the ridiculous response I received from our case worker, I went ahead and called the numbers she sent me. Unfortunately, it was a worthless piece of information that could in no way give us any relief at this point. I called the numbers and its either no one was there, one number said the place was closed and the rest told me the person in charge will call me back.

After 2 months, they decide to bring this up only at this crucial moment when we are close to getting a place. If they had been transparent during our conversation and have advised us that we had to look for alternative means of funding, we could have sorted this out and tried to get extra help.

But not NOW, Now that we are a week away from securing an apartment. I asked the case worker so many times during our emails what I needed to do to help. Other than the fact I was already calling and doing all the follow-up with the brokers. The case worker just emailed and asked us for updates.

An example of one of my emails asking her what I needed to do on my part and profusely thanking her.

Just let me know how the process works so I can also contribute to the effort of finding us an apartment. I honestly have no idea so forgive me for asking a bunch of questions. Thank you for the help. We are still hoping and praying we get an apartment soon:-)

Her response:

Okay. I understand. We will work on this together.

So now that I need the actual help where is it? Or is this just lip service?

I have not received any reply from the SUS caseworker nor her supervisor after I emailed them emphasizing what SSVF programs are intended for, and why it gives grants to organization such as theirs. I spoke to the broker and said he will take care of it. So, now Im just waiting on whats going to happen next. SUS is totally stonewalling me after I asked the magic question (ie Show me the money!!).

Last night I went through some of the documents SUS gave us during our meeting with them. Here is a section of the SSVF Fact sheet flyer:

fact sheet

The part that mentions the Temporary Financial Assistance:

IMG_20130424_150841

Supportive Services: Through the SSVF Program, VA aims to improve very low-income Veteran families’ housing stability. Grantees (private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives) will provide outreach and case management services and will assist participants to obtain VA benefits and other public benefits, which may include:

 Health care services

 Daily living services

 Personal financial planning services

 Transportation services

 Fiduciary and payee services

 Legal services

 Child care services

 Housing counseling services

 Temporary financial assistance, including time-limited payments to third parties for rent, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation, child care and emergency supplies

Does SUS really care like they say they do?

On the SUS website, they have this interesting article Testimony of SUS at the Joint hearing on Veteran Homelessness Committees on General Welfare and Veterans:

“While the VA system provides a comprehensive network of high-quality health and human services, SUS has learned that half of our veterans prefer services outside of the VA.

Overwhelmingly, veterans find the city, state and federal service systems fragmented and difficult to navigate and they seek one door to services. Toward planning a comprehensive approach to supporting these veterans following overseas deployment, we also know that returning Service members return to the communities from which they deployed and will require community-based supports that facilitate their successful adjustment to civilian life while they recover from the psychological and physical wounds of war. For example, following a period of deployment, or multiple deployments, many individuals will require high levels of assistance with activities of daily living, assistance reestablishing connections with primary medical care, employment, social supports, family members, benefits, entitlements and other supportive services.

Given this set of conditions and circumstances, homeless veterans live with exacerbated levels of self-perceived hopelessness, stigmatization, social rejection and social stress. We therefore, need to be flexible, creative, resourceful, patient and transparent if we are to successfully elicit trust and engage homeless veterans in a transition to housing stability and independence. SUS is acutely aware that attention must be paid to the unique characteristics of every individual seeking to make a change in his or her own life. Accordingly, SUS works to actively understand both the cultures of military life and homelessness while concurrently fostering a new culture of wellness and recovery that offers the people we serve tools and living environments that promote healing, hope and the achievement of personal goals and preferred life roles.

Our staff members take pride in their commitment to, and expertise in, working with individuals marginalized by society. Today, SUS is able to provide an integrated continuum of services addressing concurrently the housing, employment, treatment and support needs of over 400 veterans and veteran families in New York City. Our veterans’ services target actively those individuals and families at highest risk for death due to the effects of chronic homelessness, unemployment, untreated medical, psychiatric and substance abuse disorders, and disconnection from family, social and other natural supports. SUS currently operates five programs, integrated as a coordinated continuum of care, serving approximately 400 Veterans and their families of which nearly 90 percent are homeless, 70 percent live with co-occurring chronic mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and or serious health conditions, 40 percent have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system, nearly all qualify as very-low income according to federal guidelines, and approximately half of those we serve are recent veterans returning from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, approximately 150 Veterans utilize SUS mental health and housing services outside the auspices of these specific veterans’ programs.”

The VA award grants to organizations like SUS to provide service to the veterans and the families. And to reiterate their statement that they claim to understand the situation of veterans:

“Given this set of conditions and circumstances, homeless veterans live with exacerbated levels of self-perceived hopelessness, stigmatization, social rejection and social stress. We therefore, need to be flexible, creative, resourceful, patient and transparent if we are to successfully elicit trust and engage homeless veterans in a transition to housing stability and independence. SUS is acutely aware that attention must be paid to the unique characteristics of every individual seeking to make a change in his or her own life. Accordingly, SUS works to actively understand both the cultures of military life and homelessness while concurrently fostering a new culture of wellness and recovery that offers the people we serve tools and living environments that promote healing, hope and the achievement of personal goals and preferred life roles.”

Sounds really moving. But I didn’t feel like that the case worker was resourceful or patient enough. Neither did I see any transparency or flexibility. They were indeed creative in carefully crafting information to make sure we were misled. Unfortunately we did give them our trust when we took their word that they will HELP us.

On the VA Website it is stated that the main purpose of the SSVF IS:

“At the 2012 NCHV Annual Conference, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki explained the “two-fold challenge” of ending veteran homelessness: “rescuing veterans who are already homeless while simultaneously preventing those at risk of homelessness from slipping into that downward spiral.” VA’s prevention efforts are dependent upon the SSVF Program— the core of the department’s future homeless veteran service delivery system.

“rescuing veterans who are already homeless while simultaneously preventing those at risk of homelessness from slipping into that downward spiral.”

Is SUS waiting for us to be out on the street before they do something about our situation? Sending us emails and asking for updates are not enough. We need the financial assistance they promised. The grant they receive are meant for Veterans and their families who need it. If the organization cannot do that, they should not get such grants under the pretense they want to help. It is fraudulent to acquire federal money and not use it for its intended purpose.

The flyer given to us at the SUS office clearly indicates that temporary financial assistance is part of the service SSVF program is supposed to provide.

I think at this point, their assistance is the only resort we have left. We do not have the luxury to dilly dally otherwise all the effort and money we put into this apartment hunting will just go down the drain. It would have been great if the case worker had informed or educated us, like she was supposed to do, ahead of time. Better yet if she has just given me the pdf related to this issue, about resorting to other resources first, I would have gladly read it. Unfortunately this very important aspect of the program was never discussed or even hinted at until now that we are running out of time and we need to act fast before we become homeless.

In a nutshell, this is just becoming one ugly cycle of passing the buck. On February 7 2013 I called the VA hotline. From the hotline I was referred to SUS. After 2 months Im given another bunch of numbers to call to get assistance from. When will this bureaucracy stop? Are they waiting before someone is officially homeless, depressed, suicidal and eventually a hopeless case before they do any intervention? Isnt the SSVF program designed precisely to aid the needy veterans and their families?

If SUS wants a good testimonial, they should not speak on their behalf. Let those who they have helped be their living testimonial. Action and not just Words make the difference. Action and not words will keep us out of the streets. It is the least they could do to someone who has served his country. Besides, this is not a dole out from their pockets. Its taxpayers’ dime specifilcally allocated by the VA for people like us who need it most.

As Eric Shinseki has eloquently pointed out on the VA website:

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NO ONE WHO HAS SERVED THIS NATION AS A VETERAN SHOULD EVER BE LIVING ON THE STREET.

Georgia on my mind…

I spent a week long vacation in Georgia (and a little of Alabama) during the Christmas Holiday. I fell in love with the place. It is wide, laidback, country, and just the kind of place I want to permanently settle in. it just has the quaint scene I find pleasing and relaxing. Maybe Im experiencing some middle age crisis? Or that I feel old and am tired of the city scene? Not so. Im decades away from being really that old, but I just stopped partying a longtime ago. I graduated from college at 20, started working then went back to school again for another 5 years. later on i worked again and traveled a bit. I enjoyed that period in my life where I didnt have to explain to anyone why i could afford to be reckless with some of my decisions.

Ever since i got married my priorities in life have truly changed.  My main focus is my family now and how to ensure I take good care of them and also have enough resources to at least live comfortably when me and my husband retire one day. New York is great and all, but its also small, crammed, noisy, polluted and EXPENSIVE, not to mention dangerous (although it can be dangerous anywhere nowadays). Its a terrific place to visit and I honestly love the food and the sights here. But there comes that quintessential moment in a one’s life i guess that one simply wants to settle down ideally in a house with a white fence, with a garden, a lawn and a huge backyard to have future barbecues with the family. I just want something more peaceful and akin to the setting I grew up in, more of the suburbs, the sight of trees, mountains, the woods or outback.

So visiting Georgia was an awesome respite for me. It made my head swim with wonderful thoughts of one day living in a bungalow with a small garden outside, probably even a pool for the kids, me sitting on a lawn chair, fanning myself like crazy while enjoying a tall glass of sweet iced tea southern style=) Weekends spent hanging out the hubby and kids at Sam’s club while enjoying the array of delicious samples and teasing the kids that that concludes our lunch and dinner for the day. Then driving to the strip mall in my big ass truck, to have some ice cream, shop a bit and maybe even have dinner at either Country Barbecue or Carrabas. Sunday morning could be spent fishing or hunting with Dad, Uncle, Hubby and cousins. Sunday evenings with Nana talking about whats going on in the news and maybe learning new recipes.

Oh my I think I really am officially old. Who thinks of such things except old people. I was telling my husband one time that you know youre old when you go to Macy’s and you spend more time at the linen or kitchen section than any other department. Its kind of funny that me and my husband get really excited over thinking of what to cook next or when we have to go to bed bath and beyond to look for home supplies.

But we arent old yet. We are at the prime of our lives still mistaken sometimes as college students. Plus we hang around people from the 50-70 age bracket that we still get treated like teenagers.

But all these lovely thoughts of Georgia, family dinners, get together, holidays and simple meaningful moments just hanging out, eating, talking and enjoying the company of those we love, make me look forward to growing old. And I would love to spend my old days with my handsome soulmate, occasionally pinching his butt in public , strolling at the mall, while our grandchildren watch us and shriek with disgust. LOL.

Some awesome photos I took while our amazing 77 year old Nana was driving. What we had for lunch on our first whole day in Georgia and some photos of us just cruising around a cousin’s neighborhood.

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Strike 3, 4, 5?? err I lost count.. but IM OUT!

A few months ago I wrote a post about how abusive my boss is. He still is and Im sure over the next couple of months, days and years, he still will be. The good news is I wont have to put up with that shit anymore. The bad news though is one day someone will definitely kick his ass, and i wont be there to witness it. oh well cant have it all.

For now Im going to enjoy being a Happy Bum in search of a meaningful job and life. Woohooo Freedom from wretchedness!

to hike or not to hike

Growing up I learned that the key to not going bankrupt is to live within one;s means. My family was poor. There were 5 of us and my parents didn’t make that much money. It is quite amazing how my folks saw us through college. My mom always told us that its not always getting a fat paycheck that would solve our financial issues but rather how we allocated the money. We didn’t have a lot of budget to go towards entertainment or frivolous things but I’m glad my parents didn’t go cheap on us when it came to what’s important. Education, day to day basic necessities and a little something put away for the rainy day. It seems to me that my parents were stingy because they were responsible. One is careful in spending money that they worked hard for.

tax is hard earned money so why is it not spent wisely by our government then? Because its not theirs. They do the spending though and now we are in huge debt because our government is living beyond its means.

So what am I driving at here? Its common sense. Spend within the budget.Why not tighten those purse strings instead of having the rich people make up for the deficit? ts not their fault we are in debt. I’m not rich but I have no reason to dislike or even demand for them to pay more taxes than I do. Some people just happen to make more because they work harder and have invested more of their time and money to be where they are. Why punish them for being successful?

The solution is not trying to squeeze out more money from taxpayers. The government should be more responsible in how they spend our hard earned money.