9 am knock on the door. It is a Somali neighbor. She has a letter stating that her Access (food stamps) benefits are going to be terminated if she does not renew them. It is a 10 page document that after reading, I had a bit of trouble understanding all of.
She looks inside the house.
"Ladder." She says, proud of her vocabulary.
Great, now if only she could tell me the "the cause of denial for the most recent application for unemployment compensation benefits."
I invite her in to look at all of the paperwork. I call her caseworker. I can picture the woman on the other side of the phone. She is not an native English speaker, and I imagine that she has a reputation for being hard nosed.
"She has been here for three years, she should be able to call for herself." This woman says. She then lists the mountains of paperwork needed to refile. She needs a letter from her previous employer stating why and when she was laid off. "She should have this, and should have it filed." She needs all bills, all bank accounts, a copy of her lease, etc etc.
We got to her house to look at the paperwork she has kept. She hands me a pile of things that look important. Some junk mail has slipped in as well as some routine letters from her kids'school. There are some personal items and pin numbers that nobody should know but her scribbled on the papers. These are the things she has kept, thinking that she may need them later. She shows me her bank statement and her unemployment numbers and tells me the balance in her bank account to the penny.
No Unemployment letter. No layoff notice.
I call the PA unemployment center. It is ironic that the unemployment office is understaffed, I bet they can find some out of work people no? I wait 20 minutes and talk to a really awesome guy.
"Hi, I am calling for my neighbor blah blah"
"I need to speak directly to her."
"OK" and hand her the phone.
"Yes I do" and gives her social security number, proudly having remembered it.
"78. Yes. Yes, 19. Yes. 19 ... .. 78."
"I do not know..." I know exactly what is being asked, her date of birth. She doesnt have one. Much like immigration botching all of our ancestors' last names, they just gave all these people 1/1/year birthdays.
I get all of her paperwork together and tell her the final thing that she needs, the letter of termination from her last employer. She has 3 kids all at school right now, all less than 10 year old. It is unbelievable to me that had she not come over, she might have not had any money for food in October. What happens then? Her kids get taken away?
The "case worker" at welfare was so uncaring and callous it was pretty crazy. She gave me the wrong answers as to whom should be helping this woman. Her attitude was "its not my job..." She acted like her job was to fill in blanks on a computer screen rather than help people, which is supposed to be her freaking job.