Devi Prayer -- Hymn to the Divine Mother

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another night in the shelter


Another frustrating night in the shelter…

A woman, 35 years old appearing to look 60…spinal fluid is draining, strokes and seizures, ear canal is disintegrating, she has a speech impediment and often appears intoxicated…she is discharged from every shelter for ‘using’ though she has never picked up a ‘street drug’ in her life…her children are taken by FACS and placed in a foster home where they are allegedly sexually and physically abused and neglected…Why? She was a guinea pig, a lab rat, for an acne medication…freely given samples of medication by a clinic that is now shut down for malpractice…living in poverty and with nuclear medicine poisoning... a civil lawsuit in motion…her life expectancy cut short…the case may be won but she will never live to see any financial compensation…nor live to see her children grow up.

Where is the justice and when will it be served?

Who is listening and when will we be heard?

A manager suffering from Sjorgen’s syndrome: Rheumatoid arthritis and caring for her husband with disabilities who cannot care for himself is demoted, asked to ‘step down’ because she “has gone as far as she can go” with the organization…Why? She has more life experience and compassion than any other person in management, but lacks academic certification to ‘prove’ her worth to the agency…no medical benefits, no retirement savings, living in poverty and watching her life’s work being turned inside out and upside down in order to keep stats high and beds full with little regard or compassion for the women WE attempt to serve.

Where is the justice and when will it be served?

Who is listening and when will be heard?

A homeless shelter, underfunded and single-staffed (per shift), losing government funding because numbers are down…God forbid we do our job and teach women the life skills they need to live on their own! New management brought in…beds now full…’zero tolerance’ rule removed…authority is taken from front-line staff…no longer are we trusted to use our own logic and discretion…no longer can we exercise any authority. A safe haven for children, youth and women in poverty struggling with addiction, mental health and abuse...now turned in to a flop house to keep government funding…No one is safe any longer.

A staff member, 25 years old, is pinned to her office desk with her head in a choke hold by two angry youth…we are not to use force…she pushes the panic button and police arrive 10 minutes later. No one is charged, her life put in danger…the night continues….

A women released from the hospital 24 hours after attempting suicide…they (the hospital) are not funded to keep her so they send her to us…under-educated and poorly paid staff now given the responsibility to house her and keep her from taking her life…she is found in the shelter hanging from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom…again…single-staffed and untrained…the panic button is pushed…AGAIN… it takes the police 10 minutes to arrive. The small frail social worker takes matters in her own hands and lifts the large woman to the hard tiled floor, removes the noose (made of bedsheets and shoe laces) and administers CPR…a heroine, a child, the only one who really cares…she saves the woman’s life though the woman remains unconscious…the client is taken by ambulance to the hospital….24 hours later she is released and returns to the shelter…we are mandated to do the intake.

A woman with severe addictions frequents the shelter though she is always using and constantly on the nod…we are told not to discriminate, “perhaps that’s her demeanor”… She is sent to bed to “sleep it off” as we have lost the ‘right’ to send her to Detox…(our hands are tied though we are held fully responsible)...she overdoses and dies in her bed…the single staff on duty, only months out of school, is fired and paid a settlement so the issue is not taken to the labour board…she now has no job experience, she cannot use her job placement as a reference, and has the guilt of a lost life weighing heavily on her heart...all for what?

Management (with a degree in Business Management- NOT Social Work) pat themselves on the back and exclaim..."See how good we are? The beds are full!"

Where is the justice and when will it be served?

Who is listening and when will we be heard?

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