Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Missing Children Day

May 25th, 2010 is National Missing Children’s Day.

I encourage those of you who have, are close to, or work with kids to check out the following resources to educate yourselves, friends, and most importantly, the youth in your life, about youth safety:

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more information about youth safety. I don't believe in living an alarmist lifestyle - but knowledge is the ultimate weapon against fear.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I found filling out my taxes to be decidedly more difficult this year than last year. Today my stress paid off and my tax return was deposited to my bank account.

There's now more money in my account than there has been in almost a year. It was strange to see that much money. But even stranger because it didn't feel like the windfall I was expecting it to feel like; it's still less money than one paycheck from my old job.

Part of the reason I'm not continuing with AmeriCorps is my need to become more financially stable. See: "Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5" for the source of some of my concern. I have negative wealth right now, thanks to credit card and student loan debt. Earning money is the only way I'm going to reverse my current financial state, especially I look to return to school.

What is difficult is trying to accept that I'm entering a job market which is at a different place than it was my first time around. It's only been a few years! A lot happens in a few years. Gaining experience is my new number one priority, which means I may continue to live at near-poverty (1st World level poverty) until I finish my Masters degree and will hopefully be qualified for more well-paying jobs. I say that after a year of doing AmeriCorps, I am well prepared for living on a tight budget...I hope this is true. I hope a part of myself wasn't waiting to exhale, waiting to go and start spending money more freely again.

The times are a changin' and it may mean tightening my belt just little bit more...and not getting too comfortable with my bank balance.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being a Doorman

Originally posted at Safety Net For Youth Blog.

In his "I See the Promised Land" speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. expounded on the famous Biblical parable known as the "Good Samaritan" and had this to say:
[T]he first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?".

I have spent a lot of time waxing philosophical to any who will listen about the impact that joining AmeriCorps has had on my life; I quit a job I genuinely enjoyed, left the big City, my friends, my apartment, the life I had built for myself and traded it for a car that b/rarely works, a miniscule income, a strange town, and a profound sense of uncertainty. I can even go on and on about why I did it: restlessness, a desire to give back, my passion for education, an urge to reprioritize my life. But at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that these things really shouldn't matter very much.

The week before this past Christmas, I found myself in Homeward Bound's rec room, a guest at a party that was being thrown by a group of community members for the youth staying in the shelter. The space was full of people: employees, kids, volunteers, cheer-bringers. In the middle of the festivities, a policeman appeared at the door with a young man in tow, a runaway who was far from home. The shelter coordinator, Kate Arthur, went into immediate action, rallying together the shelter employees to process the new addition. The young man not only received immediate counseling and support but was soon in the thrust of the party, receiving gifts as just another member of this unorthodox family.

I don't know what the future has in store for that young man, but with an unfortunate number of runaways trying to survive on the streets, I think it's important that he was able to sleep on a bed, under a roof, surrounded by people with a genuine concern for his welfare.

What is my role in all of this? It feels so small. When I hit constant road blocks, see constant disappointment, I feel as if I have done nothing to help youth like that aforementioned young man. I wonder if it is even worth me being here. These are the moments, at the end of days such as this, when I must remember that it does not matter why I have chosen to be here, why it does not matter how this makes me feel. I was the first person to open the door for the policeman that night and it is easy for me to take on the attitude that anyone could have done it, that others would have been more initially helpful to him, but if it had not been me, who would it have been? Who should it have been?

As MLK day quickly approaches, it is easy for me to stop to consider how fortunate I am to be an African-American female with a college degree, to be thankful that I can sit in the front of the bus, eat at a lunch counter, use a public restroom, etc. and I do believe that it is important for me to do so. I also believe that it was part of Dr. King's dream for all to be so fortunate and, as it stands, there are still youth of myriad race, class, intelligence who don't have a chance to live so safe a life. Because this chasm has been naught to me, it is my responsibility to turn around and help to build the bridge for the youth who follow, regardless of how good or bad the effort makes me feel at times, regardless of whether or not, in the end, I gave up everything only to be the person who opened one front door for one young man.

Marian Kelly is the Safe Place VISTA at the Homeward Bound Runaway Shelter in Covington, KY.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If money fell like snow

It is finally snowing.

There is a short somewhere in my car which causes it to drain my battery when I do not drive it for days. I have a brand new battery purchased right after I got back from a trip home for Thanksgiving. I spent a few days in Cleveland for New Years and got back to my car once again not starting. I jump started it all by myself (a fact of which I am very proud) and it has been riding ever since (though I haven't tried to start it today) but I do need to take it to a shop at some point in the nearish future. I'm trying to hold out until February.

My electric bill for this month is twice what it was last month.

My new car insurance rate is $15 higher per month than it was the last 6 months. That's like taking half a tank of gas out of my car every month.

Today is rebudgeting day as I have exciting plans for some of my money and I have to find a way to make it work.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Stars

I feel as if I am on the verge of something, on the verge of knowing if I can have a life here. I almost have friends I almost have a routine I almost have a sense of familiarity. Roads, landmarks, directions are becoming increasingly familiar. The woman at the gas station, the guys at the library, the manager at the Family Dollar.

Tonight I saw the stars.

Money is still hard. I get food stamp benefits and that is hard. Knowing that so many of the people I know disapprove of government financial assistance. I say to myself, "My situation is different because I'm helping people and it's only temporary and your tax money already pays my living allowance and I paid lots of taxes for years myself." But really, my work is no better than that of the single mom working at McDonalds and getting EBT. She helps you get that Big Mac. She helps stimulate the economy. You make sure her kids get enough nutrition. We all have different ideas of the best way to help people, of the best way for people to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. If they can only get so high, why should they live less of a life than anyone else? Too little space to give this line of thought the full teasing out it deserves. It's never as simple as it should be.

The hardest part is that I get enough money that I could keep going to Kroger, with its decent prices and good quality products. But when I can, I instead go to Family Dollar and Save-a-Lot and Dollar General and Dollar Tree, where no one looks at me sidewise when I use my EBT card, the American flag waving bravely on it, reminding me of how priveleged I am to live in this country, to be supported by this thoughtful democratic society where we all have the right to the American dream. Stars and stripes.

My headlight went out again and tomorrow I will buy another and try to do a better job of making sure it doesn't fall out of place and burn more wires and blow itself out. I like getting grease on my hands and solving these problems I am not at all qualified to deal with. People are embarrassed of my car for me but I love it. It's mine.