You will not read a single blog post, Facebook status update, tweet, or news article today that’s more important than what you’re about to read right now. I promise you that.
This is a call to arms to all women with chronic pain, and every single person out there who knows and cares for them. A woman in Vermont needs help desperately.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. She is quite literally on the verge of being out on the streets at the age of 49, where she will have to deal with chronic pain, a recent traumatic injury, harassing debt collectors, joblessness, and hunger – not to mention the grave physical danger that women face every single day on the streets of our cities – alone.
This post is my attempt to prove to her, and to all of us, that she is not alone.
Meet Your Sister
Her name is Alexandra Jarrin, and she’s a remarkable woman.
Last fall, when Senator Bernie Sanders made his courageous stand for all the millions of unemployed Americans everywhere, Alexandra organized the “Letters to Bernie” campaign, where she encouraged others who were unemployed like her to send their written stories to the Senator’s office.
She became a face for a group that’s generally thought of as faceless by our more fortunate fellow Americans, and her efforts were highlighted on major media outlets like the New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post.
Then she lost her housing. She’d been staying with a friend, but that friend’s landlord issued an ultimatum to the friend: “Kick Alexandra out, or get evicted yourself.” With the generosity of friends and strangers, Alexandra has been able to stay in hotels since then but won’t be able to do so past today, as of the publication of this article at Huffington Post.
Alexandra is coping with a major knee injury, along with …
High blood pressure, diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Hyperparathyroidism, gallstones and kidney stones and God knows what else they are going to find. The worst thing I ever had to deal with was several kidney stones and the treatment for them.
Like the vast majority of unemployed Americans, Alexandra wants to work. She’s applied for over 3,000 jobs in the three years since she lost her job. Her car payments are late, and the lender is hounding her several times a day. Without that car, she has no hope of finding a job or getting to her doctor’s appointments.
Like the vast majority of unemployed Americans, Alexandra is not looking for a handout. She doesn’t want to get rich off public funds. Alexandra’s goals are a little less lofty: to find a job, to locate a safe place to live, and to make it to her fiftieth birthday later this month.
Senator Sanders’ staffers said they’d helped her, but it turns out what they did was tell her what she already knew: the names and telephone numbers of local agencies in her area.
My readers know I’m familiar with Alexandra’s situation, because I’ve lived it all too recently. Now that I’m climbing back on my feet, what I want most in this world is to win a lottery so I can turn right back around and help people like Alexandra, the way others helped me. Barring that, what I want is for each and every one of my sister chronic pain cope-rs to join me in helping Alexandra with $5, $10, $50, or whatever they can spare. (I’ve sent $50. You send what you can.) I don’t want one more woman to lose almost everything because of chronic pain, the way I did.
Conventional wisdom says “Don’t give money to individuals. If you want to help, give it to reputable agencies.” I’m here today to tell you that this advice, however well intentioned, is wrong. It’s wrong for right now, at any rate. In this environment, yes, agencies are hurting. But people are skating the line between survival and not-survival.
The stakes could not be higher. Nothing else you read today will be as important as this.
I’m here today to beg you to help an individual. To help this individual. And if you’re not comfortable with that, then by all means go out and look for an Alexandra on the street corners in your own hometown. I promise you, you’ll find her.
And when you do, help her. Give her money. Get her a hotel room for a night, if you can. Buy her a phone card or a meal or a tank of gas. Help the person right in front of you.
Alexandra is the person right in front of me.
How to Help Alexandra Right Now
Alexandra can receive PayPal transfers at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want more information about her, to put your mind at ease before you send her money (perfectly understandable), Michael Thornton from Layofflist.org (who wrote the two HP articles I’ve linked to in this post) has offered to serve as a point of contact. You can write to him at email@example.com.
Spread this link to everyone you know. Tweet it, put it on Facebook, write it down on a sticky note and put it under the windshield wipers of every car in the lot of the local mall. No, it won’t solve the larger problem. It won’t save every Alexandra. But it will help save this Alexandra. And nothing else you do today will feel that good.
If you just cannot spare $5, how about volunteering your time? I don’t know what she needs besides money, but will attempt to find out. When I was going through what Alexandra is dealing with now, I know that people who offered to do things – scour Craigslist ads for housing opportunities, for instance – were truly angels in human form to me.
The stakes could not be higher. Nothing else you read today will be as important as this. Alexandra could be any of us. She is any of us. Please help her however you can.