SAINT OLGA

SAINT OLGA
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, SAINT OLGA, PATRON SAINT OF CONVERTS

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5 HINTS TO BETTER HELP THE POOR IN AMERICA

From www.nokidhungry.org


This blog post is for those who already acknowledge that helping the poor is a good thing to do. Christians are required to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and visit the prisoners, according to the words of Jesus.  I have to assume I have a tremendously large target audience, since there are so many self-identified Christian in America.  People of other faiths and no faith are also invested in helping the poor, so, for the tiny minority of people who think that helping the poor is not something they want to do, for whatever reason, please don't bother reading this.

For the rest of you, I want to say that it is important to get a good picture of what is actually happening with the poor of this country and how it is we came to have 46 million poor people in a land that is rich with resources.  While a certain portion of this problem is barely addressed by government programs that are being threatened with cuts or elimination, there remains a great need in this country for individuals of good will to step up and help those less fortunate than themselves.

The confusing thing is that poverty doesn't look like poverty in America.  The standard of living is so high that the poor live in apartments or houses that look nice, that have refrigerators and washers and dryers, but there's little or no food in the fridge, and there isn't enough money to keep ahead of the utility bills to pay for running the washer/dryer, the fridge and everything else.  Dental care and eyeglasses are beyond the reach of at least half of the poor and nearly poor.  Medical care is spotty, and sometimes they can't pay for the prescription and over-the-counter medicines they need.  They're living in a golden cage, but the seed dish is empty.

Before you decide how you as an individual are going to prioritize your efforts to help the poor, I would like to suggest 5 steps that you can take, in the order provided, to make it an activity that is informed, satisfying and effective.

1)  DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  Research basic statistics through reliable sources the provide source data and statistics. Ignore anecdotal stories from your friends and Facebook contacts, as well as opinion pieces about the great unwashed poor and what we should do about them.  Understand the overall picture by digesting the raw data.  See some of my own resources at the end of this blog.

I have found that reviewing comparative charts prepared from the raw data is a good way to visualize the issue.

If you see a conspiracy under every rock and you distrust every agency that collects statistics, I can't help you, because it is impossible to understand a situation that exists outside yourself if you refuse to recognize any authority but yourself or those persons whose opinions already jive with yours.

2)  Listen to and read the opinions of only those people who have expertise in the areas of economics and poverty demographics and who are authorities in their own right and who rely upon credible facts when forming their opinions and strategy.  Particularly ignore anyone who claims to have "secret" information that "the government" is trying to hide from us.  They're peddling the Brooklyn Bridge.

3)  Once you have digested the data, you will come away with a good picture of poverty in America.  There are about 46 million poor people in our country and several million who are nearly poor.  You can't help them all, aside from paying your taxes (a very tiny percentage of which goes to government entitlement programs), so you'll have to begin to focus on the subset you'd like to help the most.

Keep this in mind: You are not paying ANY taxes toward the upkeep of the poor, unless you are making more than $50,000 income per year. If you make $50,000, only $7 of your taxes will go to welfare. That's for the whole year. You aren't entitled to an opinion about the poor when you're only paying $7 a year to help them.

Often, when I mention the poor, people immediately make reference to panhandlers and the homeless, even though that group represents an itty bitty speck in the 46 million sea of poor people.  I myself require assistance from friends in order to struggle through every single month, but I also find myself helping the homeless in several ways.  Take it as a given that you'll do a little something to help them in addition to your other activities.  Theirs is a special situation that doesn't represent the rest of the poor.

This is the stage at which a great deal of prayer and soul searching are required.  Which demographic of the poor will you help?

In America, the poorest of the poor, people whose income is below about $700 a month, are the ones who get the government benefits and free health care.  They used to also receive dental care and eyeglasses, but in the numerous cuts to benefits over the last few years, dental care and eye care may have been eliminated from Medicaid.

I would say that, as far as survival is concerned, the poorest people who make up the bottom third of the spectrum are, in some respects, better off than the poor whose income is slightly higher because the bottom third are the only ones who qualify for government programs.  NONE of the poor are "doing well," however.  They are all scrabbling for survival.

I belong to a rather large demographic of disabled people who, because of their illnesses, have needs that are much more expensive than the needs of an able-bodied, healthy person.  Our disability income is probably half what we need to combat our medical problems.  For instance, due to various conditions, I am supposed to get regular therapeutic massages, eat organic food, use organic cosmetics, have a service dog, and a super commercial vacuum that eliminates dust in my environment, but I can't afford any of it, so I feel ill all the time and walk like an 80 year old.)

One of my neighbors once said to me, "Why aren't you working?  You look fine to me."  Big sigh. No human being can look at another human being and magically see everything that is wrong with them.  Consequently, no one can automatically anticipate another person's needs, which brings me to category number 4:

4)  ASK the poor what they need.  Don't decide for them and then try to thrust it on them.  Recently, an acquaintance texted me and said that she had gone to the food bank and was bringing me a box of food. Trouble is, I can't eat any of it.  My diet is restricted because of my stomach ailments and my numerous allergies.  I thanked her, told her I couldn't use it, and asked her to give it to someone else. She said she would take it to some agency and that THEY would be grateful for it (unlike me, who would not take it from her.)

I will be eternally grateful to my two Catholic friends who call me every month and ask me if I need something in particular from Costco or from a favorite grocery store or from the vitamin catalog. Without these angels of mercy, I would be in a much worse position than I am.

5)  Finally, don't forget the poverty of loneliness that infects our country.  There are a lot of isolated poor and sick people who rarely get a visitor.  Visit a nursing home.  Invite one of the church ladies to your house for a meal.  Take a lonely person to breakfast.  It will mean the world to them.

After you have done all the research and rubbed elbows with the poor and made friends among them, let all this education and experience help inform your voting pattern during the coming elections.

Here are some links of some of the reputable sources for statistics that I mentioned:

U.S CENSUS BUREAU

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR - Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

POVERTY THRESHHOLDS TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE FROM US DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

ECONOMIC AND STATISTICS ADMINISTRATION - UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

PEW RESEARCH CENTER - WHO IS POOR IN AMERICA?

WEB PAGES THAT LIST AUTHORITATIVE SOURCES ON POVERTY:

CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES
Multiple sources, including U.S. Department of Labor, Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, etc.

BREAD FOR THE WORLD
Includes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

POVERTY PROGRAM
This website uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American Medical Association Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, UNICEF, the United Nations, the Boston Globe, United for a Fair Economy, The Equality Trust, University of Massachusetts' Center on Social Policy, Report by Allen Greenspan ECONOMIC APARTHEID, Michael Gorman of the American Library Association

CENTER FOR POVERTY RESEARCH - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS
Citing a report on Income and Poverty in the United States (2013), US Census Bureau, and other sources.

SAMPLE CHARTS DERIVED FROM AUTHORITATIVE SOURCES:


Sources:  Office of Management and Budget,
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Health and 
Human Services, Dept. of Labor, 
U.S. Census Bureau

Redistribution of Wealth between 1970 and 2005
Data from Department of Labor



One of the experts upon whom I rely for informed opinion and expertise gleaned from both education and extensive experience in the field of economics is Robert Reich.



Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration.  He was named by Time magazine as one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.  He is currently Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.  He has written thirteen books, two of which became best sellers.  His new film, "Inequality For All," is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD and On Demand.


I hope my suggestions are helpful to you.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SERVICE DOG NEEDED

Advertisement for service dog vests for medium size dog, 
from Westwood Research Laboratories, found on Amazon.com


Dear readers,

You know from previous mention that my last service dog died and that I am currently looking for a service dog of a hypoallergenic breed because I have grown more allergic to the other breeds and my asthma has gone into overdrive.  Since I would like to avoid being one of the 5,000 people who die each year from an asthma attack, and since two medical doctors AND the local police are urging me to get another service dog, I have decided on a medium sized poodle variety, such as one in the picture above.

DOG REQUIREMENTS:

  • Pure bred poodle
  • Less than two years old
  • Between 20 and 35 pounds, give or take
  • dark color (NOT WHITE!)
  • Sound disposition and health

The reason for getting a pure bred is that this is the only way to be sure that the coat will be mostly hypoallergenic.  Poodles, and a few other breeds, have hair that grows continually, rather than fur that sheds.  It is this aspect that makes these breeds relatively hypoallergenic.  It is also this aspect that entails that either the owner groom the dog regularly or have it done professionally.  Professional grooming is expensive, so I am opting to do it myself.  Yes, I can do it.

Not all hypoallergenic dogs are suitable for service work, and some require more exercise than I can give them.  A medium sized poodle, what we would call a "large miniature" is most likely the only reasonable option for me.

I can manage the costs of ongoing food and vet bills, within reason, but the start up costs for training and grooming equipment are beyond me and I need assistance.

I am very familiar with dogs, I have had many and trained many.  I have also conducted quite a lot of research and I know for a fact that there is no agency in the United States that will supply me with a service dog of ANY variety, much less a hypoallergenic one.  Many people are convinced that service dogs can be had for free, and they cannot.  The only exception may be military veterans, and they usually have to wait at least 3 years.

Experts agree that clients who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder should train their own dog because each patient has their own peculiar needs and triggers.  They do recommend several books to aid in this process, and I have included them on a wish list on Amazon.  It is my intention to also join puppy obedience classes at Petsmart so that the puppy will start getting properly socialized right away.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows persons living with mental health disabilities to train their own psychiatric service dog. There are many good reasons for choosing this method as opposed to getting such a dog from a program. First, owner-trainers get to choose the breed of dog they will partner with. For those of us who are drawn to breeds other than Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds this is an attractive feature."  
SPECIAL SERIES - TRAINING YOUR OWN PTSD SERVICE DOG
by Dr. Joan Esnayra

FULL ARTICLE HERE


As you can see, I have experience and expertise, AND I have "done my homework" with regard to the entire spectrum of service animals.  The only thing I need now is some financial assistance to obtain the dog and the necessary training and trimming supplies.

I cannot stress enough how much I need a service animal.  This is not a pet.  It is serious, therapeutic relief for a serious condition that I did not bring upon myself.  This is something that is necessary in addition to ongoing counseling, medication and other therapies.

The fundraising aspect of this venture is due entirely to the fact that I am disabled with numerous, chronic, painful, physical and emotional conditions that prevent me from working.  My retirement income is not enough to pay for the start up costs, even though I worked for more than 30 years and paid continually into Social Security. I have a close circle of friends, but there is no close family.  So...here I am, reduced to begging for alms to get my needs met.

If you are able to help and you are feeling generous, please click one of the below links and continue on.  If you are unable but sympathetic, I ask for your prayers.

FUNDRAISING SITE FOR DOG PURCHASE AND SUPPLIES

AMAZON WISH LIST FOR TRAINING & GROOMING SUPPLIES
It is recommended by all animal care professionals that the home be ready for the puppy prior to its introduction to the household, so it is important that I obtain the items on this wishlist BEFORE purchasing the animal.

God bless us all!

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

OPINION AS KING

Mr. Fuzzy Pants, king of the house and ruler of all he surveys.
His opinion, which he expresses QUITE loudly, is law....or
so he tells me.


I wish I hadn't read Facebook today.  The political season of crazy has begun.  The worse of it are the lies that are foisted off as a "difference of opinion."  Large numbers of people have LENGTHY "opinions" and will fight vociferously for their position.  The only problem is, in the course of championing their cause, they spew lies right and left.  I call them lies because, well, that's what they are.

So, with Christian charity, I initially assume that these lies are just a product of a lack of education, so I provide definitive sources that prove that what they've said is not true...and they continue to defend the lie and say that it is true.  For these people, their opinion holds more weight than facts.

So it is with Satan.  He, the father of lies, presents the lies as Truth and the Truth as lies.

There is a very good reason why "Thou shalt not lie" is one of the 10 commandments.  You have to admit that 10 is not a big number, right?  Every one of those 10 items is crucially important for our spiritual well being.  Even some Christians don't seem to take it seriously, though.  I have been very surprised by this phenomena, since becoming a Catholic.

Some months ago, I caught one woman telling multiple lies on the telephone in order to manipulate someone into doing something she wanted.  When I questioned her, she said, "It's not a lie.  It's just a story."  When I explained that I was concerned about her immortal soul, she said, "Oh, don't you worry about me, little girl.  I'm just fine.  I'll be going to heaven, don't you worry about it."

Well, first of all, she was younger than me, so I suppose the "little girl" comment was an attempt to discount me.  This person was so wedded to her opinion that she wasn't going to let facts get in the way of what she wanted to do.  In her exalted opinion, it is alright to tell lies if you call them "stories."

I know our God is a loving God, but he also expects that, if we love him we will do what he says to do.  If we don't, then we don't go to heaven.  Don't find fault with me for repeating Christ's position on this.  Take it up with Him if you disagree.

Still, this rainbows and lollipops and unicorns Jesus is all the rage among people who just do not want to make any effort to "become perfect as your father in heaven is perfect."  I am not talking about the people who aspire to holiness and fail now and again.  That's a different circumstance.

I had to block two people from my Facebook list today because they defended lies about the church that were obviously intended to manipulate people into choosing one political party over another. Even when faced with proof from the American bishops that they were lies, they staunchly defended their lies.  Their opinion could not be touched or changed by truth or facts.  Their opinion is king.  God save the poor wretches.  They need our prayers.

When we do not defer to God, but instead rely upon on our opinion, we are in big trouble.  I rather think the road to hell is paved with these self-referential opinions.  After all, that's how Satan ended up there.  In his opinion, he was as good as God, and look where it got him.

Silver "Rose" Parnell
(c) 2015


Saturday, May 9, 2015

PRAY FOR NEPAL


I woke up this morning feeling very grateful that I was born in a country with amazing resources and a high standard of living.  Even though close to the poverty level, I have an adorable, clean, sturdy apartment; hot and cold running water; a fairly safe food supply; nice clothes in my closet; hobbies and friends; a wonderful church community.

As of this morning, the confirmed death toll as a result of the recent earthquake in Nepal is nearly 8,000 souls, at 7,912.  The utter devastation is due to a combination of factors, mostly a very strong quake combined with antiquated buildings.  About 298,000 houses were destroyed, and more than 10,000 government buildings collapsed.  About 8 million other people have been affected by the quake, but the U.N. reports that donations of funds have fallen well below that which is needed to help this nation rise from its knees.  They need $415 million, but have only received $22 million in response to last month's disaster.  Click the following link to get information about U.N. efforts and what is needed:

U.N. REPORTS FUNDS ARE WELL BELOW WHAT IS NEEDED

The clock is ticking because June is typically the beginning of their monsoon season which customarily causes floods and mudslides.  With millions of people homeless as a result of this disaster, it doesn't take much of an imagination to divine what looms ahead for this beleaguered nation.

If you can contribute any funds to help the Napalese, here are some links:

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES
CAFOD - Just One World
TROCAIRE.ORG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
CARITAS AUSTRALIA
CENTRAL OFFICE FOR CARITAS - In Rome, Italy
AMERICAN RED CROSS

If you are like me and have no funds to contribute, please join me in prayer for Nepal.  Do an extra rosary.  Take some time in adoration before the Blessed Eucharist.  Remember the Nepalese people when you say grace before eating, that they should also have food and safe water.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

ACCEPTING GOD'S WILL




"Perfection is founded entirely on the love of God: 
"Charity is the bond of perfection;" and perfect love 
of God means the complete union of our will with 
God's: "The principal effect of love is so to unite the 
wills of those who love each other as to make them 
will the same things." It follows then, that the more 
one unites his will with the divine will, the greater 
will be his love of God. Mortification, meditation, 
receiving Holy Communion, acts of fraternal charity 
are all certainly pleasing to God - but only when they 
are in accordance with his will. When they do not 
accord with God's will, he not only finds no pleasure 
in them, but he even rejects them utterly and punishes 
them."  ~ Saint Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri

Yesterday I attended the local Lay Dominican Chapter meeting.  First, there was morning mass in the church, then we moved over to the parish hall and had our meeting, which was begun with daily prayer from the book of Shorter Christian Prayer, a truncated version of the Daily Office that is said throughout the Catholic Church in monasteries and convents and sometimes by individuals at home.

We had a light breakfast, a reflection, some discussion about future events, and then we broke out into three groups for a discussion of a recent paper on governance that was a preparatory document in light of upcoming elections.  After all of that, I met with a few people with regard to entering the "Inquirer" stage of the process of becoming part of the Dominican order.

All of this took about 4 hours, and by the time it was over, I was in agony of physical pain.  My back, legs, sciatic nerve, and arthritic tailbone were all screaming at me, despite having taken two strong pain pills.  The pain stayed with me throughout the rest of the day, which I spent in my recliner, some of it sleeping.  I missed my customary Saturday evening mass.  At 10:30 p.m., I was still feeling the pain, and I realized that I am not physically able to attend these Lay Dominican meetings.

The most I can do is attend mass once a week at my parish, where they supply me with a chair that helps alleviate some of the pain that comes from sitting for so long.  Becoming part of a third order is a fine and beautiful thing to do, but it has become obvious to me that, as fine as it is, it is not God's will for the trajectory of my life.  I love God, therefore I exult in learning His will for me, regardless of what it is, because whatever it is, it is an expression of his love for me and his deep involvement in my life.

Nothing happens in life that God does not either will or allow to happen.  

Cheerfully accepting the will of God when it doesn't happen to coincide with what I thought I wanted is something I am STILL learning to do!  The alternative just causes me unhappiness.  There is a certain joy in knowing that God has revealed a clear path for me by hemming it in with very tall barriers.  I told Him I wanted only to know his will and, having my explicit permission, given by my free will, He has obliged me.

I had envisioned a different sort of life for myself in my later years. For the longest time, I yearned to be a nun in a contemplative convent with other nuns, but, having spent many years in God's company, alone in my apartment hermitage, I have grown to love this life as an expression of God's love for me. Being an accidental hermit who is disabled and mostly home-bound had not figured into my plans, but this is the situation with which I am gifted.  Having faith in God that he knows what is best for me in the highest sense is a crucial part of my spirituality.

Cultivating gratitude and learning to say "thank you" for the obstacles has been a hard lesson that took me a very long time to learn, and I am still evolving along those lines.  I suspect that this type of conversion just goes on forever.  In this deliberate effort, the joy of surrender is gradually coming upon me.  I pray that one day this joy will be complete.

In the meantime, I have advised the Lay Dominicans that I will not be able to continue with them, until and unless my health improves.  I will continue on at home, praying, meditating, and practicing the presence of God.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015