Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Slap In The Face

Well here is one for the day. I made a sincere effort to write an impassioned plea for the Meijer's store on Pierson Road in, Flint, to remain open by citing that Kroger's had just closed, the unemployment rate is at 8.1%, many residents in the area are on foot, seniors and the disabled frequent that store.

I also indicated that perhaps they could approach the Economic Development Council for funds for upgrades, as it was brought to my attention there was a sewer back-up issue. I also proposed the store could be kept opened from 10 to 10. Imagine my response when I opened my email, only to discover no one actually read my email, it was an auto response. The response thanked me for being a loyal customer and informed the store would be closing. Now, that is just stupidity.

My father worked at J.L. Hudson's for 40+ years in the Downtown Store and the Oakland Mall. My father was a salesman all of his days, but he knew Joe Hudson, as Joe did not remain in a glass office. He actually would come down and speak with my father to ask about the store. My dad would kid around with him. You see there used to be an ethic in the workplace where the employees were valued and their input was taken to heart. As for the auto response, I hope you will take the time to circulate this posting so Meijer's realizes employees and customers count.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Clayton Klein Passed Away On Sunday

Unbeknownst to me until this evening when I was on the computer, a friend informed me, Clayton Klein, the author of many books and former owner of Wilderness Adventure Books passed away. The title of my last piece was "Coincidence," where I spoke briefly about Clayton. Clayton actually passed away on Sunday, the day I published the piece.

I met Clayton when I first moved to the Village of Fowlerville and was working for myself at Madeleine's Manuscripts housed in the offices of Lodden Technology. Clayton called and asked if I could help him with a small writing assignment, which I did.  He also offered me the opportunity to present my drawing to him for a book, but the author was looking for a different feel.  I was okay with that.  I draw now on occasion, but generally not with such detail and mostly it is cartoon in nature.

Clayton had a way with people with his contagious smile.  I remember the last walk I had with him in the summer of 2011.  Clayton was walking his usual circuit at the Fowlerville Park. He was walking at his same usual clip, much faster than I. In fact, I had to cut across the hill to meet up with him. We talked about a lot of things including his travels overseas.  

Clayton told me as a child he had been overweight and so when he got older, it had been a part of his natural routine to follow a nutrition plan and exercising daily.  He was an adventurous man and had been on many long canoe rides.  In later life, it was always walking from Hell, Michigan to the Mackinaw Bridge.  

Clayton gave back to his community in so many ways.  He was there to walk with Genesis House Members for individuals who were coping with mental illness. Some of Clayton's children even walked with Clubhouse members as well. Life was about living for Clayton. Marjorie had been his friend and support in life until her passing.  

If you ever needed a hand or someone to lift your spirit, you could count on Clayton.  He was one in a million.  I shall miss you my friend.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I am sure we have all had funny things happen in our lives that we simply could not explain. Yesterday, a fellow who is part of a fun chess group gave me some books. I had never told him anything about Clayton Klein, a fellow, whom I have the pleasure of knowing and worked for years ago when he owned Wilderness Books. The chess fellow gave me a book of Clayton's, "One Incredible Journey." I never mentioned to him either that I had just posted about interviewing Melissa Gilbert and Timothy Busfield regarding their new ABC series "Secrets and Lies." The other book, you got it, "Secrets and Lies."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Graphic Visual Video I Accidentally Viewed

I actually have a headache tonight as a posting was placed on my Facebook page of an actual be-heading.  I was shocked and horrified, as I had made a point of not watching any of these. When the page scrolled down, I did not know what I had seen as the video was already in play.  I re-played it not understanding what I had witnessed, and I about threw up.

I have not seen such graphic images since the Vietnam War when I was a young child or of individuals who have set themselves on fire when I was young adult. Those images were displayed on television.  I never want to become anesthetized to the horrors of violent deaths.

I shielded myself in my own reporting by photographing images such as a train accident that occurred in Fowlerville by focusing my lens on the vehicle. The only image alluding to the fact that a person was inside of the car was that I allowed my lens to capture the person's gym shoe. For me the story was the devastation of the impact.  I made a personal decision not to photograph the person who survived, but had life altering injuries.  I also had to photograph the skid marks on the road for the police.    

Writing about things helps me let go of things that I have witnessed.  My headache is now disappearing, but let me share with you what the Facebook video addressed as I understood it.  The person who posted the video believes be-headings are an appropriate punishment for rape. Personally, being raised in the United States of America with our judicial system, I don't have a firm grip on the matter, and I don't know what you would do with a repeat offender.  I have always held a stance of non-violence even in the most difficult situation.  I was taught forgiveness by the Nuns, but blocking images that cause me duress is also an effective tool even when I have been violated.

I have to be able to sleep at night, so I try not to think about things that cause me difficulty.  Sleeping has not always been easy with all that I have witnessed or experienced, but I am learning how to cope. I am a reporter always even when I am not collecting a paycheck because I believe in humanitarian efforts.  I have an ethical and moral responsibility to do the best I can to lead my life in a manner that will ultimately be for others good as well as my own good.  Have I messed up, absolutely, no one is perfect.

I am engaging in dialogue with those of other Faiths to try to educate myself not only on religion, but on cultural, political and ethical values.  I am not God, therefore, what I try to bring to the table is an open mind to try to understand their perspective without trying to interject my own, though at times this is not easy. Personally, I find cultural differences is where I have the most difficulty because it seems when I learn about the culture, it follows that I am also learning about the political and then the religious. I don't understand how women are viewed in so many cultures and so I am trying to learn to listen.  I want to be like the wind and hear everything before settling a single leaf.

I am forever a student as well as a teacher, but always a student first.  My life may never have a big impact unlike when I was young and had aspirations to be in politics and settle world affairs.  My goal now is to be the best I can be and to discover how to re-introduce myself to society by saying no matter how much life has tossed at me, I have a moral responsibility to pick myself up and set my thoughts in order, so I can make the most of my life, while setting a positive example for my family.

I have no excuse.  I have an education.  I may not have transportation at the moment, but I will secure employment once again, and in the meantime, I am going to be the best tutor I can be.  I do desire to get back into reporting on some level, but this may take time before it happens. Most of all I am fortunate to have so many people who care about me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Resume Gap and Finding A Job

I have been working with a person who has been indicating for some time that he wants me to work on a grant with him for autism research.  I have been waiting for additional information, but he has been slow to provide the details.  I am beginning to think that I should be looking for work in another direction because this same person also indicated he wanted me to work on his thesis with him in terms of editing.  I have been seeking opportunities that are within walking distance because I do not have a car and bus trips add to my expenses.

This leads me to another problem, I have always written, but I have not earned a paycheck in three years and have been on disability.  I want to return to the workforce, so I am planning a course of action that I hope will lead to employment. I have always been dedicated to whatever community I live in.  I am happy with my new apartment, and I have found a program that is dedicated, to certifying me as a tutor in reading.  I am excited about the prospect as my degree is in English, language and literature.

This is a unique opportunity because when I worked as a substitute teacher, the lesson plans were always provided for me.  This time, I have to design the program around the adult student.  I must admit, I have some butterflies about whether I will be successful in figuring this out, but my plan is to be flexible in identifying what I need to do to work with the student.

I have been informed that lighting, heat and environment are all critical issues to the student's success.  I have also been informed that if distractions are an issue, I will have to work around those issues by working out a program that fits the adult reader.

Identifying the goal for reading is critical to keeping the reader involved.  The adult student may want to fill out a job application, read to a grand child, earn a high school diploma or g.e.d.  No matter what the goal, it is my responsibility to help the reader attain the reading objectives.

I am excited about the prospect because I remember when I was in first grade, I had a nun who I actually liked, but I gave a very hard time to because the school environment was so frightening to me. My schooling up to that time had always been at the orphanage.  My nursery school teacher was from India.  I also had kindergarten and then transition before moving on to first grade because according to one of the nun's, "I liked to play too much."

My first grade teacher was very patient with me and discovered how to help me read by having me sit in the back of the classroom in a booth with earphones over my ears while I followed along. A blue overlay was laid atop of the screen as the book was read aloud.

By the time I left the school, in fifth grade, I was reading well above my grade level.  The school worked off of a program called Student Reading Laboratories (Assessments),  (SRA).

I am working through a book called "LITSTART STRATEGIES FOR ADULT LITERACY AND ESL TUTORS." For this Saturday, I have to identify two strategies I can possibly use to instruct the adult learner and my two sessions of  6.5 hours of training for certification will be complete.

My plan is to work with the Disability Network. 
 The mission of The Disability Network is to promote freedom, choice, opportunity and equality for people with disabilities through advocacy, education and employment.

Both scenarios provided assume that I have spoken with the provider.

1) By understanding the mission of the Disability Network, I am able to have some insight into the objectives of the program. I understand from last week’s session that I am to have two strategies prepared for how I am going to try to tutor the student in reading.

I have selected Strategy 14 Pre-Reading Survey, however, I will first introduce myself and try to understand the goal or the objective of the student in seeking tutoring for reading.  I have prepared a plan for a student who would like to attain his/her G.E.D.  

1) I will have the student read from pg. 4 while understanding if the student has not missed more than two words, I will move the student up to the next level.
2)  I am planning on using the word families to assist the student in reading unless I am able to determine the student has the ability to understand phonics.
3)   My hope is to identify methodologies that work with the student in the process of  his/her learning.
4)   I will be using a combination of tools to assist including 3x5 cards and a binder.
5)  I will also inquire specifically what kinds of interest the student has and what the  student would like to learn more about.
6) I will try to determine if there is a movie the student has seen that he/she has liked and we could perhaps get the book.
7) I will pose questions to determine if the student comprehends what I am sharing and knows what the material is about. The questions will be general in nature.
8) I will over the course of time have the student provide an experience that could be documented.
9) Temporary spelling as outlined in Strategy 50 will also be used, if it proves helpful.

As for my second strategy, again, I am looking at a student who would like to learn how to read, however, this time it is to earn a G.E.D.

1)  I have examined potential free materials that are available to assist in understanding what the student needs to know in order to complete the requirements for a G.E.D.
2)  My hope is that I can make the student feel comfortable enough to share the difficulties he/she has experienced in the past, so I don’t repeat the mistakes of the other instructors.
3)  If I identify that the student is a tactile learner, I will try to use a magnetic-board to assist.
4)  I will determine to the best of my ability if mapping is a way to reinforce the material.
5) Ultimately, I understand the instruction is always in flux, and it may take time to determine what works and what does not work.

On Saturday, February 14, 2015, I officially received my certificate to volunteer as a reading tutor in Genesee County.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Libraries Are The Refuge of the Homeless

Libraries are the the refuge of the homeless.  When living in Pontiac and visiting the library, I saw the same faces.  The homeless would find a corner to rest their head on a table or one would be sitting in a chair with eyes closed for some peace from the outside world that could be so bitterly cruel. The cold winter months are long in a city of the forgotten.

There was a man who would venture out even on the coldest of days to go to a Church to get a hot meal.  The bottom of his soles were worn out, but that did not stop him from his regular routine. Most of the individuals living at the home had clothes that were tattered and if the clothes were not already tattered, well, bleach took care of that. The man who ventured out daily, lived at the Quality AFC Home in Pontiac where I too resided.  The man's eyes lit up like a child when he came home one evening, and he was so happy, grateful and proud to show me that a gentleman at the Church literally went to his home to retrieve a pair of his own shoes to give to him.  Thirty four people were crammed into this home where two houses were adjoined with a common dining area.  The home more often than not only had one staff person on hand in the evening.  Medicines, laundry and housekeeping fell to this individual to take care of the responsibilities properly. Unbelievably, Quality AFC Home is listed as a Charitable Organization and was fully licensed by the State of Michigan.  According to 2012 records, The reported income for Quality A F C Home Inc was $387,367, which makes it one of the highest income nonprofits.

Unbelievably, the home had a water fountain that was not operational because the switch at the fountain was broken.  Dee, Conjit's husband decided rather than fix the fountain.  He put a five gallon jug of water out for use.  The problem; however, was the jug was often empty and getting water was a problem.  Milk was rationed and the bread came from leftovers from Panerabread, but often was so hard that biting into it was a chore.

Bed bugs were an issue at the home in 2012.  When I complained about the situation, I was yelled at and told it was costing $6,000.00 to have the home treated.  Well, excuse me, maybe the situation should have been addressed when they were letting individuals go to drop off centers where homeless people would go for the day and crime was rampant.  A man was shot and killed outside of the drop-off center where I was going at that time too, and no one seemed to give a second thought about it. He was just one more fellow who met his maker.

Drug exchanges were taking place and everybody knew to look the other way. So what, you may ask happened to me, that I wound up in such a precarious position.  Well, I was living in Livingston County and trying to find a full-time job from 2009-2011.  I was only able to find a slew of part-time work and this was when the stock-market crashed.  I went through a divorce, and I was left to raise my son.  I couldn't make ends meet and my home was foreclosed on.  My son, eventually, turned eighteen and began his life journey.  In the meantime, I had to find a place to stay.  A friend knew I had no where to go and offered to have me sublet his apartment since he had a spare room.  I literally lived in the foreclosed home for a year, which was allowed.  I then moved to the apartment, but I had to say goodbye to my dog by putting him down before I could move in.

The apartment deal lasted about five months before the fellow dropped dead of a prescription addiction. Bare in mind, prior to this time, I had been married for twenty-two years and had raised two kids, was a scout leader, sub-teacher, VFW ladies auxiliary member and served on the committee that began our first Christmas parade.  Oh, and I had worked as a stringer reporter and freelance writer. As for my personal married life, I am not at a point where I feel comfortable talking about that.

Livingston County had no homeless shelters.  I simply lost it mentally.  I could not afford to stay where I was living and things were not looking up.  My brother suggested a group home, and I should not have issued the check so quickly for Quality AFC was anything but Quality.  I was taking medication, but my medication were messed up at the home.  I was linked with services through Community Mental Health of Oakland County.  Their services were sub-standard, so arrangements were made to receive services through Easter Seals.  The problem was that I reported the situation to employees at Vision's Clubhouse, but I did not feel comfortable about the situation.  I also reported the problem to the Caseworker with Easter Seals, but I was not a client of hers long enough to resolve the issues.  I felt overwhelmed by the situation.

There were no safety belts in the van that we road in while one of the drivers drove so fast we would be catapulted from side to side.   The day after being yelled at, I was on Woodward Ave, and I asked Conjit Biteu, an owner of the home, to let me out of the van and she told the driver to stop the van and let me out.  The driver point blank asked Conjit, "here." Conjit responded, "Yes," so the driver stopped the van right on Woodward and let me out.  I took a bus from Pontiac to Royal Oak and then road another bus, but was only able to get as far as the Farmington Oakland Community College Campus.  I called the driver who had let me off and she called her ex who picked me up and treated me to dinner. He urged me to come up with a plan.  In the meantime, it was getting late, and  I was finally able to get a hold of my Aunt.  She could not take me home as her residence is for retirees. The man who picked me up, I told her was a preacher. He conveyed the horrible conditions of the home, and that they owned other homes, a boat, two Cadillacs and vehicles for their kids.

The next day, I went to the hospital in Pontiac where I had been treated and retrieved my hospital records before boarding a Greyhound Bus.  I could not get a bus direct to Fowlerville.  I took the bus to Flint and then boarded the transfer bus to Lansing.  I stopped by the Lansing State Journal and spoke with the editor about the conditions of group homes, but she indicated they did not have the staffing to pursue the story.  I then went to Subway and ate lunch.  I wandered until I was walking on a bridge that overlooked water by a pharmaceutical company and a park that was dedicated to Union Workers.  I left my hospital records with one of the onlookers.

Eventually, I walked to Delta college and spoke with the security person and asked him to call the Chief of Police in Fowlerville.  I was deteriorating as the day progressed, but I was still holding my own.  The Chief arranged for a local ambulance to come get me, and I was taken to Sparrow Hospital.  I was briefly evaluated and then waited in the lobby for hours when a doctor finally saw me.  He was young and never asked me to sit down before even looking at me.  He offended me with his cockiness. I reached to slap him and he laughed, with that security was called, but they were respectful and turned their backs when I asked to get changed into a gown.  An older doctor came in and made the decision to have me transferred to St. Lawrence Hospital, where I received treatment from Dr. Dominic Barberio.  He was completely unaware of the full set of circumstances, which led to my being at the hospital and the fact that many nights, I was being prevented from sleeping in my supposed designated room.

Additionally, the only clothes I had were those on my back.  The shooting at the Connecticut school occurred, and the staff were glued to the television.  Though I wanted to work on projects in the back with the staff lady who had a tatoo that said "Imagine," and she was willing to help me, she told me she was not allowed to do this.  I needed activities because there was nothing to do back in the secluded wing other than watch television, which was simply upsetting.

I certainly was not myself, and I continued to deteriorate.  I was being monitored at night and one staff person took advantage of the situation and that led to my final inability to recover in that setting at all.  Dr. Barberio arranged for me to be transferred to Caro.

I was finally released from Caro and sent to Burton to live in a Group Home, which though not perfect was far superior to the one I had been in while living in Pontiac.  I sought services through Livingston County because I could not afford to live anywhere safe in Oakland County. Livingston County failed once again to find appropriate housing when it was evident I was capable of being on my own again, but thankfully, a Genesee social worker and doctors and nurses felt it was time to move on, and I was given a list of apartments to choose from.  I am now on my own again and forging a path to get back to work.  The world may write you off, but never ever write yourself off.

I still see many empty eyes behind library books, but some of the most intelligent people I know are the ones you may simply walk by.  I urge you to open your eyes and pause for a moment while thinking "but there for the grace of God go I." What little thing can you do to change the circumstance of these individuals. Volunteering is a good place to start.  Broken hearts, minds and bodies are healed by nurturing hands not by slandering words or askance eyes.  I am reaching out, will you do the same?

*To view materials, copy and paste data into your browser.  Financial numbers are drawn from the, 2012, report when I resided at Quality AFC Home Inc.

*I am not interested in suing, I just want to improve the circumstances of all, so no one faces similar circumstances.  Together we can improve the lives of the disabled.,-144792.aspx
This report shows reckless regard for individuals in their care and further demonstrates that Quality AFC was negligent when I too was not of sound mind, by letting me out on Woodward Ave.