The Ethnic NY project provided an interesting and new perspective on the neighborhood in which I’ve lived most my life. Through the interview process, I gained much insight into the neighborhood’s present and past. The history I’ve uncovered has been intriguing and eye-opening and has caused me to further appreciate the current neighborhood in which I live.
This summer (& continuing into the school year), I started a grant-funded program with four other local professional organizers. I’ve worked in a paid position as a professional organizer for homes and businesses; A good portion of the work I get to do is with hoarders.
Hoarding disorders are a sub-category of OCD (even though there are some people who think of it as a separate disorder). Hoarders suffer from the intense inability to throw anything away. For example, Syllogomania is a form of hoarding in which the hoarder collects (“hoards”) trash– empty bottles, feces, empty food containers, etc. The most common & effective treatment for hoarders is a combination of professional organizers, social workers, and other professionals (contractors, fumigators, exterminators); however, this treatment can be costly with organizer/social workers duos going conservatively for $300/hour. Most of the time, clearing out a hoarder’s house can include many services & professional– exterminators, fumigators, designers, contractors, etc. So, for those who can’t afford that sky-high pricing, the treatment is delayed until funds are sufficient or, in some cases, put off indefinitely.
I saw this affordability issue and, with the help of some of my colleagues, am in the development process of furthering this program. Currently, we are in the alpha phase which consists of forty homes that were already on the waitlist for regular treatment. In all 40 homes, the occupant (hoarder) had an annual income of less than $30,000 or could prove that their essential expenses (rent, electricity, etc) takes up more than 85% of their weekly/monthly paycheck.
I’ve had an eye-opening experience starting this program and have learned so much about the grant application process and how to navigate the legalities of a non-profit. I can’t wait until this program is fully launched and available to all our intended areas of reach (NYC + parts of NJ).
Since November, I have been an active member of the Be My Eyes community. Be My Eyes is an app that allows blind people to call a sighted member to assist them in tasks. Even though it is time-consuming at times, there is definitely a bond that is created over time. I have been helping one woman consistently throughout my time in the community. Nina is 25 and was blinded later in life, so adjustment was difficult. This app has given her a shoulder to lean on if she needs any help and connect her with people who care about her well-being. The app has allowed me to help Nina with any tasks she needs and, through this assistance, I gained a friend. Through getting to know her story, I have also learned many things to do when assisting someone who is blind– Here are some things, although comedic, that I’ve been told…
1. “When you say “over there” when I ask you for directions, how on earth am I supposed to see where you’re pointing?”
2. “Why are you speaking so loud? I am blind, not deaf.”
3.” Saying “see you later!” is fine, I’m not going to freak out if you use a common expression!”
4. “Also, if you need to leave the room, make me aware of that because I’d rather not talk to myself unknowingly until you return!”
Now, I can’t say that these things are universally true, but for those that I’ve helped, it seemed to be a common theme.
I encourage all of you to sign up for the Be My Eyes app. You might not get to help many people at first, but eventually you’ll become an active member of the Be My Eyes community.
This year, I thought I wanted to do some out of school service that not only impacted others but those that I love. My grandpa, Herb Herbst, just turned 90-years-old and has been running the JSAC for 20+ years. He still goes up and paints the ceilings, but not at the quick pace with which he used to do it.
I worked rejuvenating the JSAC Store as well as daily tasks that needed to be done. I helped the tenants who were mostly dancers, singers, artists, restorers, etc. I’d worked with my grandpa at the arts center during their shows (plays, performances, music festivals, art exhibitions), but had never really worked continuously on a project there. Finishing the JSAC Store which sells local artwork and such, was very rewarding.
World History I
8 May 2014
YPI Serving Learning Reflection: Housing Works
Our organization was Housing Works a non-profit focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS in New York City. HIV, formally known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, affects the immune system over time. AIDS is the final stage of HIV. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and not everyone who becomes HIV positive advances into this stage. HIV can destroy many of your T-cells and CD4 cells which are the cells purposed with fighting off disease and infection. When HIV invades the cells, it uses them to make copies of itself, and then destroys the “good” cells.
My initial attitude towards the issue of HIV/AIDS was very grim. I thought that it was untreatable and that once you had it your life was pretty much over. I didn’t have much info about or insight into a person’s life with HIV/AIDS. I honestly didn’t have any clue. I mean I had some info from eighth grade health and wellness, but nothing to the extent of what I learned throughout the YPI project. While doing the research, the intensity of the issue on New York City or the, sort of, domino effect that followed getting HIV/AIDS never really sunk in. When we went on the site visit and got to interview two very knowledgeable women at Housing Works headquarters, I learned more about the effects and got insight on the emotional side to this terrible epidemic. One of the women we interviewed was HIV positive and said to ask her any questions we had. After hearing about her journey and about her time at Housing Works, I really understood the intensity of HIV/AIDS and its impacts on New York City. I gained a knowledge of not just the facts and figures, but of the emotional side as well as the personal hardships and HIV+ person can face. I found that the most challenging part of this project was, before the site visit, connecting with the issue. I didn’t think I knew anyone with HIV/AIDS, but at the site visit I was pointed out that I probably have met a couple people with HIV/AIDS and didn’t know it. Another intensely challenging part of this project was to remove any preconceived ideas towards a person with HIV/AIDS. We were told, at the sight visit, that one of the worst things a person could say to an HIV positive person is, “How did you get it?” I learned to let go of my initial ideas and take in what the people at Housing Works said.
Acknowledgements: My dad helped me with the terminology for HIV/AIDS