Neighborhood Opportunity Network

Supporting one another in a time of crisis

Downward Spiral of Under-Employed

Posted by frankieblackburn on April 19, 2009

We embarked this weekend on a new round of door knocking in the Streamside Apartment community located at 340 N. Summit Ave. in Gaithersburg (418 units).  See a quick video clip of reflections from the diverse crew of door knockers, below. We welcomed Elizabeth from Mercy Seat Chapel Church, Maria from IMPACT’s leadership network in Silver Spring and Yuri, our new friend from Catholic Charities in Wheaton/SS.

The Reality of Fear: For the first time in my five door knocking trips, my partner Maria and I encountered at least three people who seemed fearful of talking to us, which has not been our experience in other communities to date.

Under-employed: A typical story we encountered this past Saturday: The resident is a middle aged woman orginally from Honduras. She came to the United States nearly ten years ago, 6 months pregnant and as a hurricane refuge, with a 13 year old son and no husband.  She has worked for the last five years on the cleaning crew at a local mall and earns $8.25 an hour and receives no health insurance. She is a legal permanent resident. Recently her hours have been reduced to 30 per week. This means she is making about 1,000 a month. Her son – who is now 23 – is unemployed. Her rent is $1,030 plus $300 in utilities. She also has health problems. It was clear that she had not thought about applying for emergency services. She had found her way to the Community Clinic, but could not pay the minimal fees associated with their services or the specialist to which she was referred. She was very relieved to learn about Sara Reyes, a Community Connector at the Gaithersburg Neighborhood Service Center and plans on visiting her this Wednesday.

One note: my doorknocking partner at this door was George Oyedele from Mercy Seat Chapel Church. With no hesitation, he offered to come pick our new friend from Honduras up and drive her and four other neighbors to the Neighbors Exchange planned for May 4 – down the road at Gaithersburg Elementary. She gladly accepted and they gave each other their cell phones. Neighbors helping neighbors!

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