Friday, May 20, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part V - A typical day

A typical day for me lately:

5:30am Awaken to the sounds of pots and pans banging and bad singing in the kitchen right outside my door at the shelter.

6:00am  Give up trying to get back to sleep.  Have a steamy cup of bad coffee and do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper before anyone else gets to it.  Spend the next two to three hours trying to wake up all the way.

9:00am  Take meds & vitamins, vie for the shower, hopefully get a chance to brush teeth but have gum if needed.

10:00am  Go to a doctor appointment, a support group, government benefits offices, or other similarly fabulously fun appointment.

12:00  Go to the grocery store to buy something for lunch that doesn't need cooking and that qualifies for food stamps.  Mmm, strawberries and cottage cheese and a dinner roll.  Good thing they have spoons and napkins over by the in-store coffee shop, otherwise, I'd be eating like a puppy from a doggie dish.

2:00pm  Try to get some computer time at the library.  Oops, no change for the durned parking meter, got to drive to another library with no meters but must use precious gas.  Whew!  60 minutes to check all my e-mail, facebook, blog, do research on housing and SSA benefits. 

3:00pm  Please god, I need a nap!  Try to snooze through kitchen pots, pans, bad singing.

5:00pm  Dinner at the shelter.  So much "man" food, meat and potatoes or chicken and rice.  Please give me some vegetables!

5:05pm  Do daily chore at the shelter, after dinner clean-up.  Man, those guys sure eat fast!  Wash many dishes and GREASY industrial-sized pots and pans.

6:00pm  Nightly shelter support group.  I'm feeling a little support grouped out.  But I do love the Monday night "Here's what your meds mean" meeting.  Who knew how truly complicated the brain really is?

7:00pm  Watch TV.  Hope to god the guys let the gals watch a sit-com or American Idol instead of sports or
crime shows.  So much fun trying to watch what you want with 21 other people trying to watch what they want.

9:00pm  Relax with a book from the library.  No, wait, roommate is already asleep.  She can sleep through anything, lucky girl.  Try reading in the dining room.  No, too many pots and pans and bad singing in the kitchen.  Try the TV room.  Ok, at least I can tune out the endless crime-solving.

10:00pm  Fall into bed exhausted.  Able to sleep through banging pots and pans and bad singing.  I need another nap after I wake up in the morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part IV - A Word About Food Stamps and Welfare

Lately, there has been a lot of news about modifying what types of items recipients are allowed to buy with their food stamps and welfare benefits.  There seems always to be a concern about people buying sodas and candy with their food stamps and about buying liquor and cigarettes with their welfare cash.

I admit, I have bought some candy and cookies with mine, but for the most part, I buy healthy food.  Is it wrong for people down on their luck to have a Butterfinger or a bag of Frosted Circus Animal Cookies?  I say no!  One thing that people don't think about when they think about food stamps is that a large percentage of recipients are homeless.  There are lots of rules about what you cannot buy, including any hot food or fast food.  Because homeless people rarely have stoves or microwaves or refrigerators, this puts a huge limit on what they can eat.  They have to buy expensive pre-wrapped prepared sandwiches, salads, and other cold items available in the deli section of the grocery store.  You know those hot rotisserie chickens you like to buy for an easy meal tonight?  Homeless people can't buy those with food stamps.  That's why the store also carries cold ones.  Some stores, like Target, won't let you put any deli items on your food stamps.  This is where the welfare benefits come in handy.  Welfare in Sacramento County is about $200 per month after the $40 deduction for Indigent Medical Care and the $10 deduction for a bus pass (whether or not you need one).  $200 is not a lot of money to buy all of your personal care items like shampoo, toilet paper, deoderant, wet wipes for those necessary spit baths; your occassional need for hot food not covered by food stamps; your cell phone bill so you can stay in touch with friends and family, doctors and creditors; and for those lucky enough to own a car, gas and insurance.  Seriously!  Could you make $200 stretch that far?  So, yes, sometimes people just gotta have their cigarettes, and some desperate souls must have their alcohol, but for the most part, welfare recipients are buying things that you buy everyday without batting an eyelash.

Okay, I will step down from my soapbox now.  Just wanted to give the folks concerned about misuse of welfare a little reality check.  Please remember this next time you bite into a Snickers or have a glass of cabernet with dinner.