Saturday, November 19, 2011

Which depression is it?

7:36 p.m. Today's project was to realize what's happening to people in our community. God has used the caregivers who serve Steve and me, taking care of every need and prepared for emergencies at our house to graphically show me. I mean heart knowledge, not just head knowledge.

We have had middle-aged retirees who had taken up a second career, and people with long careers as certified nurse assistants, perhaps providing a second income for their family. But lately our caregivers are struggling young people, many with children of their own but living with their parents and grandparents still. Several have just arrived in Riverside, Rubidoux or Moreno Valley from less prosperous area of Southern California.

Last night I returned from a small boutique with my packed-up Mary Kay display about an hour before the care giver's assigned shift was to end. I hate to send them home early, because they count on the hours. Many of them, I discovered, would quietly say goodbye and wait out front for a ride home without saying anything. And I wouldn't have even known that unless I'd  walked out front to take out garbage or get the mail, because they generally park in various spots on the street, not on the driveway. (If I see them, they are invited to come back in if they choose to). But in attending to Steve, I might not get out front for hours!

So I offered her a free facial in the dining room. Steve was dozing off in between watchingscenes of  "The 5th Quarter" on the Gospel Music Channel, so it was a go. My facial setup was all in one place (the car) so I put everything together speedily.  I mentioned to this bright young lady, an age between Heather and Steven, how the business opportunity could replace one of her jobs that entails a long commute for minimum wage. As for the recession-proof nature of the cosmetics business, I remarked, "Even during the Great Depression, women bought lipstick!"

She took me by surprise by emphatically stating, "THIS is the Great Depression!" She went on, "Everybody has to have two jobs, one just to put gas in your car! We all have two jobs!" And from what she describes of the second one, it's not even a good job. At least anything in the medical/ caregiving/hospice field has potential for growth. Most of our CNA caregivers are in nursing school. One has graduated and taken his boards. One has aspirations of being a doctor and has had her interview for her first hospital job. I believe this ambitious mother of young ones is in school now as well as working, or saving up to attend in the near future.

Hard work, and diligent work, is the ethic I have observed from these young people. They come from loving families, but lack the advantages that my great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and now I have been able to give our children. But as Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men." And willingness to work hard as you work your way up is a truly great gift!

One common denominator I've noticed is the lack of cars, or reliable cars; the same thing with cell phones. Yet our care givers manage to find rides to all of their jobs, and to get back home again somehow. (I remember how bereft I felt when my Jeep was in the shop for body work for a week and a half earlier this year).  For transportation to the nursing schools at Riverside Community College's local campuses, they can take advantage of free City bus rides for students, a benefit for our three universities' collegiates as well.

The caregiver who helps Steve each morning needed a ride home, so we drove him out to the far end of Moreno Valley once I took a few moments at home after my drive in from Corona. He attempted to pay me, but the Lord told me not to accept it. I told him, "You've done really well, so no." He wouldn't get out of the car without handing me some money, but I'll find a way to get it back to him!

The last couple of years have had a brutal effect on all segments of society, with prices up ($3.77/gal. for gas, $2.89 for a simple loaf of bread?) and wages down (or nonexistent). Our only hope is in the Lord at this point much more noticeably than ever, so witnessing to our caregivers is an imperative the Lord has given me. In Mark 16:15 the resurrected Jesus said,

Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 

God's sending the world to my door!

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