Sunday, July 31, 2011

Experience Is What You Get When You Didn't Get What You Wanted

That is the sentiment on the card I sent to my cousin on Tuesday, July 26th.

Which, of course, was the day BEFORE I started the whole HVAC issue. Actually I sent it the day the HVAC issue started. Let me start again.

I made and sent the card early Tuesday. I think I made the card a couple of years ago....yep, it was an older card that resurfaced. I actually created it back in the mid-2000's, maybe circa 2006? Back when I was in Reno, NV and struggling through my mental illness on an hour by hour basis (I think of my struggles now as on a day by day basis, an improvement).

So the card was an older one, but one that I really liked. And I chose it for Corinne now, because she was having to go under the knife again - and I was hoping all was going to go well for her, even as things were obviously not going her way.

So, I sent the card at 10:30 in the morning.

At 11am or so, I was finally able to reach a real, live person at the CAA - Community Action Agency here in Butte County that was my hope to get my air conditioner/heater unit fixed/replaced for free. I was put on the list - but learned I was at the bottom of the list - like #500 and it would be a year, at least! before my number was called. I was stunned.

And, my first thought was - WOW! There are 500 families ahead of me that are struggling in this heat and will struggle in the cold of the winter without heat - how are they going to do that? It made me think that I needed to take action. I did not know what I could do but I felt like I should try to do something.

Around 3pm I call the CAA back and asked them where there funding came from; what could I do to increase their funding; what would help them; would publicity of the situation help; was there anything I could do? I was told their funding was federal - really we needed a budget, we needed more funding for low-income programs, etc.

I realized that maybe if the news channel could do a story, maybe it would help someone somewhere or at least raise awareness. So I went to the local NBC affiliate's website (they also happen to be the CBS and CW affiliate by association) and sent off a message. I explained the long list, the purpose and great things the CAA did, that I was NOT a good poster child, but that there was definitely a good family out there somewhere struggling in the heat, with little kids, etc that they could do a story on.

The next morning, on Wednesday, I got a call from a reporter, Derek Demo, and he said that he was on his way to the CAA to do an interview about the story and would it be possible to come talk to me? I said no, that he needed to talk to a desperate family, someone in a worse situation; a family with kids, etc. About an hour later, he called back and said that due to confidentiality laws, the CAA couldn't give out information and names of people on the list - that to do the story, he needed to interview me. So I said yes, come over and i would talk to him.

But again - the story was other people - not me, not my situation. I pulled my roommate into the interview just to keep the focus off me. I was so embarrassed and shamed to even have the focus on myself.

So a story ran on Wednesday's news - at 5:30, at 11pm and then again on the morning news program at 6am. THEN - at 9am on Thursday, Derek calls again and tells me that a local business --- Alternative Heating and Air --- has offered to repair my HVAC unit!

Ok, this is GREAT! annd this is HORRIBLE! I did not do this to get my problem solved. I did not expect to gain from the situation. I wanted to help others; I wanted a desperate family to be helped, not myself. But now I was going to have my system fixed and I was going to benefit. Again, so much shame!

Derek came back - Tom from Alternative Heating and Air came over and worked on my unit for a couple of hours and FIXED IT! Yea!!!! Another story was filed and I was interviewed again, plus I filmed a promo - OMG! I am going to be on TV all over the place. :(

So, the long and short of it was, I went on TV, said I was low-income and needed help, got the help and thanked the news for helping me. Do I feel like scum or what??

So here is the card I sent Corinne:

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