Thursday, April 24, 2008

4/23/08 by Courtenay Shinn

8:20am Drop-off a check (to cover a fee for late paid rent) to Caroline at 174th and Burnside. Husband Vincent invites me in for coffee but I am running late. After thanking me profusely for the rent assistance, he encourages me to come by again soon to visit.

8:30am Walter calls to say he's not coming on the Oaks Bottom trip and also can't make it to our afternoon appointment. We tentatively reschedule for Friday. Another fellow, Colin, also calls to say that I shouldn't pick him up for the trip.

8:35am Pick-up Ronald at 148th and Stark. He is disappointed to hear that Walter isn't coming. Ronald insists we listen to the CD that he gifted me yesterday; we rock out to rap tunes for the rest of the carride. We pick up Morgan at Motel 6 just before arriving at JOIN. Morgan has not been to the doctor about his infected surgical incision, but it is looking much, much better. He promises to go to the doctor tomorrow.

9:15am Field trip! Annie (HILLTOP award-winning retention worker) has organized a medicinal/edible plant walking tour of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. A decent crowd of 20ish folks are gathered at JOIN for the outting. Coffee and donuts are shared. It looks like Annie and Steve can fit everyone in 2 vans, so I decide to stay behind and get some computer work done.

11:00am Make calls to a dozen folks that I haven't seen or heard from recently. Nobody answers, but I leave messages inviting everyone on our trip to the gorge next week. Talk to Christy Sue who was recently evicted from her trailer park and had settled at a new one. She says the new place was a week-to-week trailer park, and she exhausted the maximum allowable time there. She and her partner still have their mobile home, but they haven't had any luck finding a new trailer park. I encourage her to come in and see Mike (her outreach worker) at the office next week on Tuesday.

12:30pm Lunch with Lio (outreach worker) at a cafe close to JOIN. We take the opportunity to discuss some of the folks that we both work with, but mostly we just catch up on each other's lives. Since much of our time at JOIN as retention/outreach workers is spent out of the office working one-on-one with folks, any time spent in the company of co-workers is a real treat!

1:30pm I really need to get out of the office and go visit a few folks at home, but Lio and I are waiting on Sherry to come in and meet with us. In the past 9 months Lio and I have put more time into supporting Sherry than almost any of our other households, as she battled DHS for custody of her kids, attended in-patient drug treatment, enrolled in JOIN's "Mothers Helping Mothers" mentorship program, and got her first job EVER. We are both incredibly proud of what she has done to turn her own life around, but recently she has not been in very good contact with us. We want to meet and make sure that things are still going well for her; we also need to discuss her housing voucher that will time-out next month.

2:30pm Still waiting on Sherry; Lio calls her to find out that she is running late and the kids are throwing tantrums on the bus. Sherry and Lio decide to meet tomorrow without me (and without the kids).

2:45pm I receive a call with some terrible news. One of my households had applied to live at a site-based Section 8 apartment, and while Doris had been approved, Ted had been denied based on his criminal record. The manager of the apartment is calling to inform me that Ted's appeal of his denial has been reviewed and again denied. I am devasted for Doris and Ted - they're an incredible couple that has been working very hard to find jobs and develop an income to afford their current apartment. Since they've had little luck finding work, moving into Section 8 housing when their voucher ends next month would have been a fantastic solution. The job search will continue, but I worry that we don't have enough time to resolve the situation.

3:00pm Janet appears at JOIN; she is hoping I can give her a ride over to the Pregnancy Resource Center to pick up a highchair and babygate that they have given to her. I definitely hadn't planned on running this errand today, but I know how much Janet has been wanting a high chair, and her home isn't too far out of the way of where I am going to visit someone else. We hop in the car and head out.

3:45pm I drop Janet at home; somehow the day has escaped me and I don't have enough time for both my remaining appointments. I call Allison to reschedule our visit. Allison recently had a baby and is a full-time student at Portland Community College. She's doing a fantastic job as a first-time mom, and I am excited to see how much baby Ethan has grown in the 2 weeks since I last saw him!

4:15pm I have a long phone conversation with the representative that made the decision to deny Ted's appeal. I share glowing reviews of my experiences with Ted since he moved into housing last June, but the representative remains firm by her decision. Ted needs to establish a few more months of clean record before they can feel comfortable renting to him. She encourages me to have Ted reapply the next time there is a vacancy. Who knows when that could be???

4:35pm I pick-up Roger at home to take him grocery shopping. Roger is feeling grumpy about his broken leg, the discomfort of wearing a cast, and the limitations of hobbling around on crutches. The prescription pain medicine isn't helping as much as he hoped it would, and his foot is starting to swell, turn purple, and lose circulation. I can't convince him to go back to the hospital tonight, but he agrees to let me take him first thing tomorrow morning. I drive Roger to the grocery store, help him get his groceries, take him home, and call it a day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

4/22/08 by Courtenay Shinn

8:00am Pick-up Janet at home (SE Pardee and 104th) and take her to apply for a job at the Doubletree Laundry. JOIN has been supporting Janet, her husband, and her 6 month old baby with a housing voucher that will soon timeout. Janet and her husband are both looking for work so that they can begin paying their own rent and utilities. Janet was interviewed for two other jobs last week; we are hopeful that one of the three will work out.

9:00am Weekly staff meeting at JOIN. Vy Swiftcloud from Central City Concern stops in to discuss the 45 of our folks for whom she administers housing vouchers.

10:00am Do a little office business at JOIN: Make a to-do list for the day. Call some folks to remind them about the Oaks Bottom field trip tomorrow. Call a landlord to check on the status of one of my folks' application for tenancy. Respond to an e-mail from Michael, a potential new volunteer at JOIN. Michael wants to do some friendly visiting to folks that we’ve recently housed; he and I are trying to coordinate schedules so that he can shadow me for a day. Just before heading out, chat with Margaret, president of JOIN’s board, who is stopping by to see Marc, our Executive Director.

11:15 am Stop by Motel 6 on SE Powell and 31st to visit Morgan. He is working with Quinn (an outreach worker), and they are in the final steps of moving Morgan into his own apartment. Since Morgan just had a hernia operation 10 days ago, we have put him up in a hotel while he waits for the final approval from the Housing Authority. Morgan says he slept terribly last night. He shows me his surgical incision, which is totally infected. I encourage him to return to the hospital today to have it checked out. Otherwise, he is excited about moving inside next week!

12: 05pm Stop by Walter’s house on SE Division and 117th. He isn’t home. Just as I am writing a note to leave on his door, my phone rings. It’s Walter! He has gotten some temporary, part-time work and is calling me from the job site. I remind him that JOIN is taking an outing to Oaks Bottom tomorrow, and he decides to come along. We also make plans to stop by the financial aid office at the hospital tomorrow. Walter spent 3 weeks there in December and is still fighting for assistance in paying the bills. Since he is zero income and has no insurance, I don't quite understand why it is taking so long for him to get approved for financial aid. I hope we can sort it out tomorrow. One of Walter's neighbors also works with JOIN, but I have no time to visit him today. Moving on!

12:17pm Head over to an apartment complex on SE Stark and 148th where five JOIN households reside. Visit Darren and Linda first. Linda just had elective bypass surgery on a blocked artery in her leg, but is recovering fairly well. I help her fill out a 1040 form for the IRS. Since she receives Social Security Disability, she is eligible for the $300 Economic Stimulus Reimbursement. Next, visit Andrew downstairs. His application for Social Security Disability was recently denied, so we call his lawyer to hear about the appeals process. He asks me to bring him a mop and some cleaning supplies the next time that I visit. I am happy to do that; these items can't be purchased with food stamps. A few doors down, I visit Ronald. One of his neighbors had thrown out a fish tank, and he has set it up nicely. I brought him a couple fish a few weeks ago, and they are looking very happy. Ronald is really proud of his fishtank, so we make plans to get some plants to add to it. As I am getting ready to leave, Ronald presents me with a belated b-day gift; 2 CDs of rap music that he bought at the 7-11. I promise to listen to them as soon as I get back in the car. Last visit at the apartment, Craig. Craig is in an extremely bad mood -- he has a really high utility bill that will cost him half of his SSD check, and then he worries he won't have enough left for his portion of his monthly rent, his groceries, and food for his cat. Craig was in this same situation back in February, thus the terrible mood. He is hoping I can help him get a pair of reading glasses; I will contact the Lyons Club Gift of Sight program.

3:00pm Visit Caroline and her son Vincent. JOIN is helping them pay a late fee on their rent, so I am just dropping off the check. Caroline needs diapers for Vincent, so I make her a list of agencies that might provide them. She also asks if I can get her 4 kitchen chairs and a couch. We make plans to visit the Community Warehouse next Thursday.

4:15pm Last stop of the day, Foster and 122nd. Roger was hit by a car last week and is recovering from a broken leg. His neighbor Jack, who was also helped by JOIN, is visiting him when I stop by. Roger's leg has a giant cast and he says he is in a lot of pain. He asks if I can take him to a pharmacy to fill his prescription for pain medication. I had some other plans for the rest of the afternoon, but this seems much more important. First we have to drive across town to a friend's house where he has stowed his knapsack and the prescription from the hospital. We swing by the accident site to see if his bike is still there (it couldn't be brought in the ambulance with him), but it is gone. We hit a pharmacy, I bring him home, and at around 6:30pm the day is finally done!

Monday, April 7, 2008

4/4/08 by Steve Gevurtz

I woke up early to get a jumpstart on my case-notes, and then headed out to an apartment building in inner northeast Portland to remind folks about the dinner tonight at JOIN hosted by our friends at the Sunset Presbyterian Church.

In particular I wanted to see Stephanie, who hadn’t been to one of our community events in a while, to check in about the dinner. Stephanie can be a little reserved and wary of large social gatherings. I let her know that other JOIN workers would be there and the dinner was going to be a yummy taco salad. Stephanie agreed to let me pick her up for the dinner in the early evening.

After leaving the apartment building, I headed out to Birch, one of JOIN’s community partners that helps provide emergency food-boxes for our recently housed folks. Along with boxes of canned vegetables and loaves of bread, I also picked up a box of Danner boots to bring to a few of our folks who have recently started doing landscaping work.

After a quick lunch, I stopped by the hospital to see my friend Jason. Jason had two heart attacks in the last month and soon will be transitioning into an assisted living center. It is still hard for Jason to stand and get out of bed. We sat for a while and reminisced about some of Jason’s friends on the street.

Jason asked for me to play a few riffs on his acoustic guitar. Jason seemed to light up watching me stumble my way through, “Stairway to Heaven.” He showed me an easier way to play it. Jason asked me to say hello to some of his friends at the dinner and asked me to raise a toast to his recovery at exactly 7 pm. He wants to raise a toast at the same time.

Went to pick Stephanie up and she was there waiting outside for me ready for the dinner. Twenty-five or so folks end up showing up at JOIN for the feast. Church members and JOIN folks alike helped set up chairs and tables as folks got settled and begin chattering with each other.

Children from the congregation delivered plates of delicious taco salad for dinner and topped it off with chocolate cake for dessert. At 7 pm we all raise our glasses of juice and cups of coffee for Jason, hoping he is doing the same thing.