Archive for the ‘serving the community’ Category

one month evaluation

January 3, 2011

It has been one month since I have started working.
It will be ninety days before I get insurance.
That is ok, I’m not ill, have a disease or pregnant.
But, I wanted to give you a short update.

Usually we get up at 4:30 in the morning.
By 6:00 our bus is here.
By 7:30, usually, we are at work.
Remember Imran is in a different building, so we don’t have lunch together or anything.
But, we still work in the same company.
I can’t claim overtime. I tried. It first has to be approved by my supervisor. So, I have to do other things until 8:00.
Facebook, blog writing, book reading, bill paying, talking to friends all can be done between 7:00 and 8:00.

I am the liason between departments: accounting, customer service, contact center (they make calls for other companies who want to do surveys or other telemarketing opportunities) and sales. I’ll get a company credit card and have to schedule trips for sales. I have not faxed lots or copied lots. I scan mail to be sorted. But, most of the mail is not for our office.
Honestly, I feel odd “NOT” doing very much. Sometimes, I even have to fight against sleep.
My body is on a weird sleep schedule. Instead of it being on a 24hour clock, it is on a 12hour clock. So, the hours between 9:00—1:00, I am sleepy. If I get sleep during these hours, I can be up the other sixteen hours. It is strange, but I don’t know how to change it. Even when I forego the morning 9:00 sleep time, I can only sleep (at the most) 5-6 hours before I am up and ready to go for the day.
That means that I go to sleep at 9:00 in the evening and am up by 2:00 to get ready for work. But, I can’t, then, fall asleep at 9:00 A.M.
Anyway, I come from a long line of factory workers and unskilled or minimally skilled laborers. Mmy parents and grandparents etc did not go to college. Finishing High School was quite an accomplishment. So, I am sensitive to the laborer’s stance. In many factories, the laborers do not have a complimentary relationship with management and/or the office workers. Typically, the office workers would get paid “MORE” for doing “LESS.” I am not at all convinced that the company that I work for is dissimilar in this regard. So, I feel strange watching the clock tick away, knowing that in another building, a worker is working much harder for his/her meager minimum wage. The production part of the company has people packaging different items.
These workers make minimum wage: (thank goodness they changed from the patronizing and often substantial piecework model). But, I try to be as kind to the production workers as I am to everyone else. I don’t want to be pittying and patronizing. But, I do want them to know that I respect them for their work. And, I continue to ask if they are included in all opportunities given to the other employees. There were no totally blind Bosma employees who ran the minimarathon last year. At least Imran will be making that trend null in void.
Now, I realize that:
1. I am expected to do lots more and be quite a bit more versitile.
2. I do have more responsibility.
3. I did go to college for a good position.

But, needless to say, I want to learn everything and be as busy as possible and I don’t feel right checking facebook or paying bills or writing an email on company time.
Yet, ve found that the others in the office are much less adamant about this particular ethic.
Most are all pretty nice. I want to get to know all of my office workers. There are about twenty in the building. There are the bubbly ones and the cranky ones, etc. All types that you would expect in the office. I have to be bubbly because I am at the front desk.
The good part about this job is that they understand my limitations and are willing to try to maximize my potential and work to find ways around those difficult tasks. And, it is taking lots of time to teach me the specific computer programs because each one is a bit different. Sometimes, my screen reader can’t find the specific item and we have to figure out ways to accommodate for it.
All in all, I find my job challenging: (at least technically) (or it will be when I start having to apply what I have learned) and I find the work environment pleasant and my supervisor helpful and encouraging.
It could be less quiet in the office. But, I’ll work on that. I end up having ten minute echoey discussions with the woman who does housekeeping. One good thing is that I feel comfortable sending an email to anyone in the organization and make a suggestion.
So, I am developing relationships with many different people in many different departments.
Soon, the vendors will add trailmix and granola bars to their selection of snacks.
The braille teacher might incorporate some of my suggested activities to learn braille.
and, since there has been a request for volunteers to knit scarves for the guys who help out with the Colts games, I will be trying my hand at knitting. Did you notice that I said “trying?”
I am dedicated to learning and doing as much as I can in this position.
Yes, there are days when I ask: “How am I helping the larger society?”
and
“What difference am I making?”
But, this position is giving me skills, confidence, a bit more time with Imran and money.
I am satisfied. I’ll just have to find other ways to contribute.
have not been able to do anymore teaching English, but maybe at a later date.
I have suggested a Saturday class.
Hey, I have corrected some writing English exercises from livemocha members. But, that is not nearly as fun as direct interaction.

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finally working

November 30, 2010

Can someone feel joy and frustration at the same time?
Yes! they certainly can.

I had two interviews within the last month.
the first was for an administrative assistant. the position is with the same company that Imran works for. He, actually, forwarded me the position. I applied. I would not be working in the same building as he would be working. But, it is still within the same company. I went for the interview. but, I honestly did not think that I would get the job. I don’t think that I did that well in the interview and It was clear that I would not be the first choice.
The second interview was just last week. It was with a rival company. The job is either “community Guide,” or the “full time Advocate,” or even the “part time Advocate.” they had three positions available.
I actually want a job with this company more. It appeals to my social work sensibilities and degree. I would be working with blind consumers, finding and referring resources, helping with daily independent living skills and doing all types of “social worky” stuff.
I don’t know any of the specifics of the job, such as pay, benefits, insurance, etc.
They were suppose to call me Tuesday if they wanted me to come in for a second interview.
I have not gotten a call yet. I have left one email and one voice message.
but, I thought that (the interview with company number 2) went quite a bit more smoothly than my first interview.
today, I got an offer from:
the company that Imran works for — interview number 1. the position is “Administrative Assistant,” and they offered me the position.
Hmmmm,
$15 an hour which translates into 30k annually,
free health/dental/vision screenings,
3absent days, 6sick days, holidays.
We do get some bonuses.
And, it says:

Health Benefits eligibility for insurance benefits is contingent upon hours worked.

Benefits will begin the first day of the month following 90 days from date of hire.

Health Insurance

PPO Plan or High Deductable Plan See Human Resources for costs.

PPO Plan Rx Drug Program

$10.00 Generic $30.00 Brand Formulary
$60.00 Non-Formulary Generic or Brand

Life Insurance

Equal to annual earnings or $15,000 (whichever is greater). Maximum benefit $100,000.
(All company paid)

Dental Insurance

Company pays for employee/See Human Resources for dependent costs

VSP Vision Plan

Company pays for employee/See Human Resources for dependent costs
Long Term Disability
All company paid.
403(b) Plan (Pre-Tax Retirement Savings)
All employees are eligible for the voluntary 403(b) plan.
Company match is currently 25% of employee contribution after one year (minimum of 1000 hours) of service.”
(I know that the insurance is through Anthem).
So, do I take it?

Hubby says “yes.”
I had my reservations: ones which seemed quite foreign to him.

1. I did want to work more in a social work field – this is in office and sales
2. I did not think that it was a good idea to say “yes,” and then, if the other job came through, I would have to quit the first.
But, Imran was almost amazed that I did not just take the offer on the spot. “with the current economy…..”
“You know how hard it is for blind people to get a job…..”
“You have been praying for a job…..”

“You act ungreatful….”

I just wanted someone to understand.
sometimes, I think that my desire to volunteer and serve the community in a positive way eludes him. and, I won’t be teaching English anymore, either because that was on Tuesday afternoons.
I don’t think that he sees the value of volunteer work, anyway.
“If they are not paying you, you shouldn’t do it!”
(but, that last comment might be just me writing while I am in a place of frustration).

maybe he just has no concept of my deep desire to assist those who are in need. I mean, I don’t have sympathy, I try for empathy and I believe that it is a good purpose: what we are all called to do in some way. and, I feel that it is a job where I can “connect” with people. I am more interested in making a difference in the lives of others than making the all mighty buck.
Money is great! But, there is something more.
I can’t imagine a person who doesn’t feel that pull to give of themselves by sharing their knowledge, resources, wisdom, etc.

Of course, he is right. I should take the job. After all, why would I apply for a job that I am not willing to take.
and, they have not called me for the second interview, yet. and, in my last discussion (at my interview last week) they said that they were looking to fill the positions quickly: which perplexed me because I could have taken any of the three openings and been glad. and, if they were looking to fill them quickly…. … and i had the right qualifications…. … and the right experiences…… ????

Granted, the company is going through changes and that could be good or bad.
It was not the general decision that I had a problem with.
I am quite nervous (office duties is not my fortay and I’ll have to work a bit to understand all of the software, filing, etc).
and, I actually asked my daughter and family because I did want their opinion and wanted them to feel as if they could talk with me about this decision.

It wasn’t that I was not going to take the job… …
it was just…. ….
I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to have my feelings and thoughts understood.
Again, it was not the final decision. It was the fear of starting a new job, the desire for the other position, the swirl of thoughts and feelings that I wanted him to understand.
i was more astonished at the fact that he didn’t understand my heart.
Maybe it was speaking a language that he just doesn’t understand.
I wonder what language we will be speaking when we discuss money matters?
We have discussed it before:
but, it seems that reality is much different than hypothetical discussions!
Wish me luck!

DINING IN THE DARK

June 25, 2010

An organization in our area is putting on this fund raiser called:
“Dining in the dark.”
The patrons are blindfolded in an attempt to demonstrate what it might be like to be blind. They are blindfolded for the entire meal.
I must admit that I am not “all up in arms” about it like some of my friends.
They are angry because they feel that it does promote a negative picture about what it must be like to be blind.
they have a point.

Sure, we all want sighted people to know what it is like to be blind. We certainly want some empathy. But, mroe than that, we want some understanding that (with the right training and modifications) we can excel just as our sighted peers.
Most sighted people won’t get past the fear and anxiety of being without sight. The cost is $150 a plate.
Here are some opinions from my friends in the nfb.
I’ll try to condense.

From T & H:
We (myself and my wife T) have been a member for around 1 ½ years and not seen a comparable blind awareness opportunity proposed by the NFB. So, I think it is great that Bosma is doing this (even if only in that regard). You may think this is a great way for people ridicule and make fun of the blind. You need to remember that these people are paying $125 a plate; they are paying to help support a cause that is important to them and to have an experience. These people are more likely to enjoy the experience (and take home something positive from it) than to poke fun. People pay good money to swim with sharks; it is easy to point and criticize while you are in the boat. So, let them try it.
It seems like a lot of people think that Dining In The Dark would provide negative perceptions of the blind to attendees as well as people they come into contact with afterward. My theory is those [negative perceptions] are, more often than not, brought upon us by our own:

… … (T Says) I think what is most poignant to me is that this dinner could be a very positive opportunity. I know that many in the NFB are vehemently opposed to such endeavors, however, I think that you have to start somewhere. I am saddened to think that some ideas I or anyone else may have proposed for future awareness opportunities would fall on deaf and prejudiced ears (for instance: setting up an obstacle coarse and providing sleepshades at a fair or providing blind simulation via pictures or tactile objects;

… … I think it is also important to remember that no one is putting on this dinner with the intent to invoke ridicule or to bring about negative afterthoughts. I believe it would be best to reserve judgement of the fundraiser until it is completed lest we jump the gun… …

From D:
[was upset at the media’s portrayal of those who opposed this dining event]
So, let’s fight fire with fire. Let’s conduct some high profile public awareness activities of our own.
Though It would be a humongous undertaking, and I don’t even pretend that I know what would go into getting a training center started, I would love to see us start an NFB training center in Indiana. Does the national organization provide funding for such undertakings? Let’s take some of that money away from Bosma, and provide blind hoosiers with some real training and hilosophy. Let’s give them some training that is going to mean something.

From K:
the very training center used by Indiana’s blind/visually impaired residents raising funds through fear, and miss conception. Seems to me this just promotes the same old blind person as walking in Darkness, and no matter what the intention, that is exactly how the guests will see this(for themselves.)
Maybe we could have a Video montage made of the collective days in the life of a Blind worker, cook, parent, and any number of other things, if not strictly for sail, than at least presented via the media, at a big event such as a big dinner served in the normal style, of course. I can tell you I’d be more than willing to help with any segment of such a presentation.
Walking in Darkness has not been my state, and I have never seen a day in my life I can remember! Walking in Darkness simply doesn’t exist for those who’re willing to change what it means to be blind!! 🙂

From S:
I reject Bosma’s efforts to make something sensational about dining blind.
Just think for a moment: Suppose one of the guests spills her steak and
potatoes into her lap.
That person will be sure she could not accomplish the simple task of eating
a meal; so how could she go out and work if she became blind?
She would have experienced a totally embarrassing, humiliating situation,
and that is what she would carry away.
We all know these embarrassing, humiliating events can and do happen; but
they are not the norm, and we pick up our flattened pride and move on.

If this person were to experience blindness for a longer time, say three
weeks or a month, by that time, she would have gained some proficiency, and
had enough positive experiences to carry the day.
Then she would have enough respect for the process of learning that is
required of all of us, and she might be more likely to consider a blind
person as a candidate for the next job opening in her company.
But with all due respect, this understanding would be very hard to come by
in one evening.
I totally understand those who are deeply offended.
I see the hypocrisy of this organization not using sleepshades for teaching those (who are going blind) learning blindness skills, but being perfectly willing to use them to raise funds.
However, I do also believe that we who are blind are often blind-sided by
what we do not see, and cannot observe; and I do think we need to have an
open, understanding mind.
I don’t necessarily believe that people will come out of this experience
with a negative view of blind people, if it is framed properly.
There has to be a balance, and I’m not sure Bosma is close enough to the
right balance to suit me.

From R:
As to the Dining in the Dark concept; let me give you some background on it. and set tables cook meals, ect.

It became a novel concept when it came to America and we changed the whole concept. We now have sighted customers dining in the dark and dawning sleepshades.This is suppose to give them an experience of what it is like to be blind.
We in the National Federation of the Blind have always opposed the use of sleep shades on a short term bases. The reason is because it promotes in the user fear, anxiety, and amazement at being able to accomplish this task. The NFB has worked hard over the years to dispel the misunderstandings and misconceptions people have about blindness and blind people. We have worked hard to show the general public that we are the average person doing the average job. We don’t want to be looked upon as being amazing people for completing the simplest task.
When well meaning sighted people sell our disability instead of our abilities to the general public they do a dis-service to all blind people. This negative impact promotes hopelessness and helplessness. We as blind people are conditioned to believe in this concept of learned helplessness and we in turn become that in which we believe.
The National Federation of the Blind believes in high expectations for blind people. Therefore it is not out of our realm of thinking that “a blind person will one day go to the moon” because we have members of our organization aspiring to be an astronaut.

From P:
I agree with V, They could have showed blind people working. They could
have had blind people talk about how they are living their lives just like
anyone else. The truth is they just want to make money and they don’t care
what it does to the image of the blind.

My thoughts:
I must concur with R, P, S and K. While the intentions might be to show people what it is like to be blind, their methods will not yield any result except loads of pity and money.
One of my biggest problems with this event is that although they serve the blind community:
they teach them life skills, how to cook, clean, make a meal, balance a check book, make a resume, get a job, etc.
Why couldn’t blind people plan the entire event?
They could have had blind people doing the cooking, serving, cleaning, planning, speaking, public relations, fund raising, etc.
But, after talking to some blind people who work there;
the blind aren’t even involved. They knew nothing about this fund raising event.

After talking to Imran, he was not as upset over this issue. He did agree that they were probably doing this whole dining experience only to make money. And, he did agree that there should be more blind people involved… … ahem, (one blind person would be an accurate description of “more”). But, he thought that we should debate with them quietly.
From what I know, R., our state president has tried and it has not resulted in any changes.
Imran does note that this money will go to help blind people. It will benefit blind people and this is a good thing.
I agree, but at what cost to blind people: their dignity?
And, how much will it benefit blind people? Certainly, it will help them receive some services that are useful. But, will it insure that they will be equal to their sighted peers socially, financially, physically and emotionally?
I know that Imran thinks that the pursuit for dignity is sometimes a pursuit for those who don’t have to worry about “surviving.” Such thoughts and actions are luxuries for those who don’t have to worry about food/shelter/etc.
He feels that such growth will come after the most basic needs are met.
And, in Pakistan, many times, these needs are not met.
Let’s talk about blind people in Pakistan.
Many don’t know braille. Many parents don’t think that there children can do much of anything.
It is not uncommon to see a blind beggar.
Many blind people in Pakistan don’t have jobs. They just don’t have many opportunities.
Yet, I see Imran’s friends.
Now, maybe he has the richest most posh blind friends.
(I guess that I can say this because Ali, Farhan, Salman, Azghar or Naeem) won’t be reading this. (smile) I mean, maybe his friends are those who can afford a computer and learn to use it.
After all, he did go to a private school for the blind.
He and his sister did get an education. Their father thought that it was necessary. I am proud of his father for not writing his children off when he learned of their disability. Their father had faith, determination and wanted something better for his blind children! They went to a private blind school in Lahore. (I should ask him before posting the name of the school, although this article would give it positive press).
From what we hear, this is rare in Pakistan because many of the schools are not as fervent in their desires or expansive in their equipment or financially able to provide their blind children with such an education.
Some obstacles are due to culture, some to economics and some to public and familial attitudes. But, Imran and his sister did receive such an education. They went to regular university and received a degree in economics in Pakistan.
They excelled.
But, not all do.
And, I am quite proud of his friends — the ones who have little to no opportunities, yet still strive for success…. those who continue to look for a job, even when prejudice attitudes are high … … those who learn the computer and programming on their own because there is no agency to teach them… … those who find resources and learn to network just so that they can access information, just as their sighted siblings and friends — (Way to go Ali, Azghar, Naeem, Salman and Farhan). ?There are even a couple of women who also have the desire to excel! (WOOHOO). and Imran, who has done all of this and continues to assist others in this endeavor. I am proud of what he has achieved and what he continues to do for his friends and any other blind person who he comes in contact with. He always tries to find them resources and ways for accessing information and reading.
I love and admire his dedication to assist other blind people in their struggles for knowledge!
That speaks to the servant in me.
And, this makes me think about the library that we talk about starting. We want to start a library for the blind.
This library would provide braille books for blind people to read.
Well, the fire is once again ignited.

denied access

May 3, 2010

No, this post is not how my guide dog and I were denied access at a restaurant and made some type of scene before threatening to get the Civil Rights commission involved.
It is about the web!
Ok, have I said — “I’m unemployed?”
Anyway, I have always been a supporter of volunteering. In fact, until I made my big move on the first of March, I tried to volunteer wherever I could.
I feel that it is my responsibility:
both commanded by God to serve the community and
it does appeal to my social sensibilities.
Oh, wait, I have blogged about that before.
Now, I am in a larger city and it is taking me a while to become acclimated with public transportation.
So, volunteering is not readily accessible.
But, it seems that “nothing is.”
I continue to use my computer to make a positive contribution, however, it is getting more challenging.
I have been constantly looking for a language learning website.
I have blogged about this before, also and if I knew how, I would post the link
[here]
But, I am not technically savvy, yet.
Needless to say, the “learning language,” department is rarely accessible, either and the sites (for the most part) are filled with people who might have
honorable intentions, but little else.
So, I decided to try and learn Urdu, as well as critique the English exercises of others on livemocha. The site came highly recommended. .
Now, the
www.livemocha.com
website is not very accessible. I can’t drag and drop, identify or click on the picture or “connect” anything.
I can, however, view or make flashcards. I can quiz myself on these flashcards. I can also make an attempt (all be it pathetic) to submit a writing exercise.
My computer is not new or fast enough for me to listen to and/or record speaking exercises. So, I content myself with reviewing written work and writing
my own.
that is until now!
Now Livemocha has decided that no reviewer can post a review to someone’s work unless they rate the work. I can’t find the rating buttons.
I have given many people constructive criticism on their work. But, now I can’t even do that because I can’t find the “rating button.” Sighted people can
push the “rating button,” and write a trite “Good job,” or “needs work.” But, my three lined critique (and you know how much I write, so three lines is
an under statement) is not accepted.
You get “Mocha points,” and a “teacher score,” for reviewing the work of others. Of course, none of these “points,” result in real “money — (what a shame) .” But, it was something that I could do. It was a way for me to use my native language to assist others. And, I would often give examples as well as my livemocha email
if they had further questions concerning the exercise.
No more!
That volunteering opportunity has gone down the tubes until either:
1. they make the website more accessible
or
2. I get a new computer.
And, did I mention that my Urdu learning has stopped as well?
Well, a big “thumbs down,” for Livemocha.
Businesses should employ disabled people to review their websites and give them a summary of their accessibility status. And, if ever a business or **anyone
wants to “update,” their site, they should employ a disabled person to advise them on the propper way to do this so that the disabled population (and,
when I say disabled, I mean someone who is using alternative software such as a screenreader and who can’t read the print on the screen) is not left out
in the dark — literally and not so literally.
Note: I don’t just say “Blind,” because there are those with dyslexia who also need the assistance of a screenreader, however, those who are dyslexic and actually need&use
a screenreader are far less in number than the blind population.

random post

April 27, 2010

Ok, I am resigned to the fact that no one reads this blog.
Maybe my children will read it after I am gone.
I have not yet elaborated on how depressing it is to not have a job when you are 40 and have moved to a larger city for just that reason.
And, I have yet to update any readers — (yeah right) on my relationship with Imran.
But, I must broaden my blog’s scope to include some of my thoughts because it is just too time consuming to make another blog.
Although, I reserve the right to do just this very thing in the future, if I so desire.
I posted the following message on facebook:
” The NY Post video of a man who helps a woman being mugged. He is then stabbed and dies on the pavement. 25+ people walked by. R you less likely to come
to someone’s aid in a city? R you’re less likely to help than years ago? R we morally required to help someone in need? Christian response? story:
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/hugo_wouldn_have_done_that_family_FKNTR0IUj3tsYhB5uSzfEL

Remember, I only have 400 characters to post.
Not one person responded.
Yet, people will comment to status changes such as
from Christine:
” Ace the cat just tried to drink water out of my cup. ewwwww,”
(12 comments)
or
From Amanda:
” wants a PS2 (or 3) so she can play Happy Feet, lol.”
(3 comments)
from Mary:
” This is my year.the 1st is my angel 2nd watch my space.”
(3 comments)
from Pam:
” As slow as Farmville is, you might as well have DIAL-UP!!!!”
(7 comments)
from Cheree:
” Bummer, stasia couldn’tget her bunny rabbits today bcit turnsout we cant have caged animals inthe apt however dogs are aloud so im still thinking about
adopting a dog, any suggestions on small very kid friendly doggies????”
(9 comments)
from Jasmine:
” Just sitting here in the bathroom while Kenity is playing in the tub. I’m def getting a headache and I already know she’s going to keep me up all night.”
(7 comments)
From Tabrani:
” Seringkali orang merasa kecewa terhadap sebuah media peneribitan ketika tulisannya tidak dimuat atau ditolak. Penolakan itu, sebaiknay kita jadikan sebagai
pembelajaran bagi diri kita. namun jangan pernah cepat menyerah. Kirim lagi dan teruslah menulis dan kirimkan.Pasti akan dimuat nanti”
(6 comments)
Ok, Tabrani is from Indonesia and only a few know what Tabrani said. Sometimes, he writes in English, but this was not one of them. .
But, you get my point.
I have wondered if it was just me
(maybe I tend to grate on people’s nerves).
Or, whether it is people in general.
I still don’t know.
And, yet, just today “The Cop,” (that is how he has introduced himself), has offered to mow my yard (a 30minute job on a riding lawn mower) and would not accept payment.
I am certainly greatful and am looking for a way to help make his life a bit easier.
Yet, I can’t understand that mob mentality.
And, it seems that facebook is a clear representation of the streets of New York. No one even comments, much less cares.
Oh Lord, help me to respond when a need arises. Help me not to be so myopically focussed as to not see what is going on right in front of me.And, give me the courage and boldness to act in truth and love.
In Jesus Precious name!

Now, let’s see where the test comes from.
I do notice that every time I am convicted about something, I am tested on whether my actions support my words.
I am hoping to pass the test and in that way feel a bit of success that I have done what is required of me as a Christian… … and a human!