Monday, April 18, 2011
we had tornadoes to pass through not too far away. terrible to see, of course. "you never
think it'll happen to you," said one of the people i photographed. i couldn't help but think
how that resonates with all of us, that we never really think we'll be the one hit with a tragedy.
we're heading back out tomorrow and hopefully getting the word out will help some.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
bent, not broken
Sharon Adams pulls her plastic bag and rises from her chair, then pauses before wrapping her winter coat around. Just feet away, Melissa Shoemake smiles, then moves to embraces Sharon before her departure.
Shoemake knows Adams' plight.
“I identify with a lot of the issues the homeless face,” says Shoemake. “They feel comfortable with me, because I've been through what they're going through.”
Shoemake is now off the streets, clean and sober for 6 years. She's also an integral volunteer for the aid organization called People In Need, which gives a variety of services, including medical, each week at Beach Pentecostal Church in Virginia Beach.
“It's giving hope to people that feel there is no hope,” says Shoemake, a medical assistant, who volunteers in the medical station of the organization. It's efforts by people like Shoemake, and organizations like PIN, that are helping ease the financial burden of medical costs in the wake of the recession. The clinic serves about 30 people each week with basic medical needs.
“They're here for us. They're giving back to the community. Most of us (people who are homeless) don't have a job. It's really hard to find one, especially in today's economy,” says Adams.
As she turns to leave, Shoemake puts her arm on her shoulder.
“I want them to know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Shoemake. “I want them to realize that there is a better way.”
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
lack of affordable housing
Sunday, April 03, 2011
this woman dealt with sexual abuse for years from her adopted father.
we did a story on her as she faced her father in court during his sentencing.
i was deeply inspired by her poise and grace under pressure. she reminded me
of the powerful resilient nature of people, and that sometimes, people can
rise above the terror of others and beat the odds of life stacked against them.
here's another picture from the economy series i'm working on.
“You learn how to deal with the pain,” says Tanya Ell, as she pauses in between sweeps of the vacuum. She leans against the bedroom wall in exhaustion.
“That vacuuming does a thing on your back.” She exhales. A moment passes then she says under her breath, “Whew.”
Ell, 56, of Norfolk, suffers from degenerative discs and faces almost constant strain in her back and her neck. She struggles in finding work these days, in part, because of her health issue. “I'm on heavy medication for my pain, which limits the jobs I can get, because you're seen as a liability.”
Ell has held many good paying jobs over the years before her health complications. “I used to bar tend, waitress, I even managed a comedy club. I can't do that anymore because I can't be on my feet that long.”
She needs to take breaks often to help cope with the pain, another obstacle in finding long-term employment. So, she cleans houses when she can to earn money. It affords her time to rest when she needs it.
She can't clean as many houses as she used to, either, which makes it harder for her financially. “It used to take me two and a half hours to clean a house, but now it takes me five,” says Ell. “I have to sit down and rest a lot. It's tough these days.”
“The painkillers take away some of the pain, but not all of it.”