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Archive for the ‘Self-Help’ Category

Sac Self-Help Housing Invites the Community to Donate Items to Housewarming for the Unhoused Drive-Thru – The Sacramento Press

Posted: November 24, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH) is proud to present the 3rd Annual Housewarming for the Unhoused winter donation drive-thru at the Cal Expo main gate loop on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The donation drive is presented by Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Sue Frost (District 4) and supported by ABC10, Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra (District 6), Sacramento City Councilmember Vice Mayor Jeff Harris (District 3) and Sacramento Self-Help Housing Staff Member Ken Bennett.

To make it as safe and easy as possible for the community to participate, SSHH staff and dedicated volunteers will be on-hand to collect linens (such as blankets, single and double bed sheets and towels), small appliances (such as microwaves, toasters and coffee makers) and kitchenware to be distributed to hundreds of recently homeless individuals in Sacramento County.

Sacramento Self-Help Housing is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency dedicated to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to find and retain stable and affordable housing, which is more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sacramento Self-Help Housing organization is a leader in the housing first model of homelessness response by providing shared housing. Sacramento Self-Help Housing is partnering with Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency to move people off the streets or emergency shelters into permanent housing. SSHH also provides homeless outreach navigation in locations throughout the Sacramento area, and a Renters Helpline which includes the regions fair housing enforcement program to address illegal fair housing discrimination.

The Housewarming for the Unhoused needs list includes the following (new or gently used items only please):

Each donation, big or small, will go directly to furnishing a home for a recently homeless individual or family in our community. For more information about Sacramento Self-Help Housing, please call 916-341-0593 or visit

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Sac Self-Help Housing Invites the Community to Donate Items to Housewarming for the Unhoused Drive-Thru - The Sacramento Press

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Bluffton Self Helps gives 400 families a Thanksgiving dinner thanks to generous community donations – WJCL News

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Traditions and gatherings look very different for many people this holiday season because of COVID-19.But a local nonprofit is working to make sure every Lowcountry family has a meal on the table this Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a meaningful holiday for so many. Its about family, its about coming together," says Kimberly Hall, Executive Director of Bluffton Self Help.This Thanksgiving, Bluffton Self Help is seeing an increase in clients like never before because of the COVID-19 pandemic.The need continues to rise right here in our community, and people that are coming through that have never really asked for help before, were here to serve them," says Hall.This week their volunteers hosted two drive-thru Thanksgiving meal giveaways making sure every family drives away with a turkey, potatoes and stuffing.All the food was donated by the community.In total, the nonprofit was able to serve 400 families.Providing this food is more than just putting food on the table, its really giving that sense of community, that sense of support," Hall says.Bluffton Self Help serves those who live and work in Bluffton, and the nonprofit encourages anyone in need to give them a call.We want to continue to make sure nobody in our community goes hungry or homeless and well be there for them," Hall adds. Bluffton Self Help will host more holiday food distributions and a toy drive next month.If youd like to donate or volunteer, click here.

Traditions and gatherings look very different for many people this holiday season because of COVID-19.

But a local nonprofit is working to make sure every Lowcountry family has a meal on the table this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is such a meaningful holiday for so many. Its about family, its about coming together," says Kimberly Hall, Executive Director of Bluffton Self Help.

This Thanksgiving, Bluffton Self Help is seeing an increase in clients like never before because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The need continues to rise right here in our community, and people that are coming through that have never really asked for help before, were here to serve them," says Hall.

This week their volunteers hosted two drive-thru Thanksgiving meal giveaways making sure every family drives away with a turkey, potatoes and stuffing.

All the food was donated by the community.

In total, the nonprofit was able to serve 400 families.

Providing this food is more than just putting food on the table, its really giving that sense of community, that sense of support," Hall says.

Bluffton Self Help serves those who live and work in Bluffton, and the nonprofit encourages anyone in need to give them a call.

We want to continue to make sure nobody in our community goes hungry or homeless and well be there for them," Hall adds.

Bluffton Self Help will host more holiday food distributions and a toy drive next month.

If youd like to donate or volunteer, click here.

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Bluffton Self Helps gives 400 families a Thanksgiving dinner thanks to generous community donations - WJCL News

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Your Mental Health Can Affect How You Save Money – Daily Journal Online

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Spencer Tierney

Tools like spreadsheets and budgeting apps can help you get better at saving money. But you might need to look beyond hard numbers to get a full financial picture.

Your mental health, especially during a stressful period such as the current pandemic, can play a role in money decisions. Know that if youre dealing with a recurring mindset or behavior thats troubling and not fully manageable, its OK.

"Just identifying [mental] roadblocks can go a long way to reducing their impact," says Tara Tussing Unverzagt, founder and president of South Bay Financial Partners, a certified financial planner and a certified financial therapist.

Mental health issues vary, but some can lead to serious financial consequences. Here are three scenarios to watch out for and how to keep your mental health on track these days.

Splurging occasionally can be fun, and sometimes we feel better when we buy things we dont actually need.

"There is some point where you need to balance your financial goals with some need for immediate gratification, says Megan McCoy, director of the masters program for personal financial planning at Kansas State University, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified financial therapist.

Your Mental Health Can Affect How You Save Money - Daily Journal Online

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Fairway’s New Self-Checkout Kiosks are the Buzz of the Neighborhood; Some Approve While Others are ‘Flummoxed’ –

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Posted on November 22, 2020 at 9:17 pm by West Sider

By Amelia Roth-Dishy

Fairway Markets flagship location on 75th Street and Broadway has installed a fleet of self-checkout kiosks and they are already a hot topic on the Upper West Side.

The machines, which were inaugurated on Tuesday in advance of the Thanksgiving shopping rush, have replaced the markets popular Express Lane, which purportedly expedited checkout for customers with 10 items or fewer (though the experience was often more akin to riding the 1 train than the 2/3.)

Reactions have been mixed. One Upper West Sider wrote to the Rag, This new system is bewildering and difficult! All around me customers were flummoxed, and the number of staff assigned to helping people check out added up to plenty of people who could be cashiers instead.

The self-checkout line was quite long on Sunday afternoon, snaking through the store and stretching beyond the entrance. Shoppers did not seem to realize that the lines for regular checkout, in aisles 7, 8, and 9, were still operative. Nonetheless, customers seemed generally satisfied with the new machines as they left the store.

It went very well, said Anne, a customer who used a kiosk to purchase a few items.

Another shopper who had just utilized self-checkout remarked to the Rag in passing, Its fine. Theyre very helpful.

You cant please everybody, Michael, an assistant store manager, said. Since we put it in, some people, theyre happy about it, they love it, and some people, they hate it, but its about technology today and we did this to try to speed up the process, he added, noting that at least 2,000 customers per day have utilized self-checkout since the machines were set up.

According to Michael, all Fairway locations have transitioned their express lanes to self-checkout lanes. They have no plans of automating the rest of the registers.

Norma Riccucci, an Upper West Sider who lives near the store, found the self-checkout transaction process to be smooth. My only concern is demand for labor going down, she said. How many people did you fire to put in these machines?

While many Fairway customers have approached Michael this week to ask the same question, he insisted that no employees lost their job as a result of the self-checkout transition. We didnt fire anybody, he said. That was not the intention behind all this. The checkers without stations now have other positions in the store, primarily in roles that support the functionality of the machines themselves. On any one shift, Michael said, we have at least three people to do override and to make the line flow smoothly.

Indeed, a number of employees roamed the lane and assisted shoppers with figuring out the new technology or conducting manual override for miscounted items.

Its making everybodys life easier, especially this week, obviously its Thanksgiving week, Michael said. We both, customers and us, are gonna benefit from self-checkout.

The Whole Foods location on 97th and Columbus Avenue also transitioned a number of their checkout stations to self-service kiosks in October as part of a company-wide initiative. The Rag has reached out to Whole Foods, which is now a subsidiary of Amazon, for comment.

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Fairway's New Self-Checkout Kiosks are the Buzz of the Neighborhood; Some Approve While Others are 'Flummoxed' -

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Fight the Power: Squash your beef this holiday season – Charleston Post Courier

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Gucci Mane and Jeezy's Verzuz filled everyone with anxiety.

Verzuz is an online musical competition in which two rappers, singers or producers go back and forth to play each other's hits. Sure, there's a WWF element to the showmanship of the competition, but this was different. If other rappers had beef, these two had the filet mignon of disagreements (without going into too much detail, Gucci ended up killing one of Jeezy's friends in what was determined self-defense).

The public thought the event could end in a fight or get canceled because some beef is just too thick. Instead, the episode ended with the pair performing a song together and publicly squashing a feud that lasted 15 years.

Moments later, I peeped the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 30-year reunion special, and Will Smith had a sit down with Janet Hubert (AKA the O.G. Aunt Viv, infamously recast because Smith and her didn't get along).

Before they sat down, they hadn't spoken in 27 years. When they forgave each other and hugged it out, in between the tears (theirs and mine), I realized the power of Black healing, and I'm here for it, a sentiment that seems perfect for this week of Thanksgiving and the ensuing holiday season.

I grew up in a culture where the idea of "self care" didn't exist. Admitting to depression or seeing a therapist was always a faux pas. One of the few bright spots of 2020 is that our time spent alone at home has given us time to self-reflect, regardless of whether we wanted to.

As a result, I've had many friends from similar backgrounds talk to me about taking mental health seriously and seeking help. I even got my first mani-pedi this year, and it frickin' changed my life. If I told my father such a thing years ago, he would've looked at me as if I told him I wanted to be a professional balloon maker.

I think about these moments of healing as we approach the holidays because this years experience will be at odds with what were accustomed to. All of the things we get annoyed about with Thanksgiving are if we handle ourselves responsibly in response to the rona coming to halt.

No spades tournaments, no visits from the crazy cousin that everyone else in the family bonds over because of their mutual disdain, no styrofoam plates with aluminum foil, and no drunk uncles dropping conspiracy theories about the election.

I usually hate those moments, but being deprived of them makes me understand their importance and the importance of nurturing those relationships and not just seeing them once a year on the holidays. I extend that to those family members that you may have tension with (and somehow wait for Turkey Day to air your grievances like its Festivus Feats of Strength).

Solve these issues now. Float out an awkward I love you message to those relatives or even an unsolicited apology that they never thought they would get. 2020 has proven that with so many unknowns, its unwise to wait to squash family beef next year.

COVID numbers are soaring back up again, and I miss my family. I haven't given my mother or sister a hug since March. My sister has special needs and wants to greet her younger brother by grabbing him and GIVING an occasional fist bump. We've now resorted to air fist bumps and me stopping her when she's reaches with open arms. She doesn't understand what's going on, but she knows that things are different.

I'm not a fan of platitudes, mainly when used in moments that require more depth and understanding. But I want to offer love this holiday season. If there have been beefs in my life, I assure you that it's not coming from my direction, and I want to offer grace to anyone I may have had odds with over the years.

I've done my share of crying in 2020. I want next year to be the year of healing those wounds.

But I'll settle for hugging my family again.

Preach Jacobs is a musician, artist and activist and founder of Cola-Con and indie label Sounds Familiar Records. You can hear his podcasts and read more work at

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Fight the Power: Squash your beef this holiday season - Charleston Post Courier

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:53 am

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Answer Man: How bad is the rent crisis? How can I help? – Citizen Times

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Pisgah Legal Services in Asheville says a "perfect storm" for evictions is brewing, between the pandemic worsening, winter approaching and relief programs running out at year's end.(Photo: mphillips007, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Todays batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: To what organizations or social service agencies can I contribute in order to help individuals and families who cannot pay the rent or meet their mortgage payments? I am lucky.I can continue to live on my pensions and Social Security. How can I pass it on?

My answer: I have sent you my address by personal message.

Real answer: First of all, I commend this reader for her altruistic nature and genuinely wanting to help others. Lord knows, we need as much of that sentiment in our country these days as possible.

More: COVID-19: Asheville commits $900K to help stop evictions, help with rent, homeless aid

Secondly, the need is tremendous, so her query is timely.

Pisgah Legal Services in Asheville works with a lot of folks struggling to pay the rent, and Executive Director Jim Barrett said a lot of folks are struggling.

Pisgah Legal continues to receive on average 1,000 calls each week, and the majority of those calls are related to urgent housing needs, Barrett said via email. "Furthermore, we are seeing more and more utility disconnects as households are unable to meet Duke Energy-required repayment plans and pay rising monthly utility bills due to colder weather.

As we reported in October, evictions in Buncombe County reached theirhighest point since the beginning of the pandemic, with 42 in September.The pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has increased the need for rental help substantially.

Pisgah Legal Services CEO Jim Barrett speaks at the memorial service for Minnie Jones, the longtime Asheville activist who died in February, at Nazareth First Baptist Missionary Church, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (Photo: Katie Bailey/

"From July-September we opened 487 housing-related cases, compared to 295 during the same period in 2019, Barrett said. "And from the beginning of 2020 to September we closed 225 cases related to unemployment, compared to 14 during the same time last year.

More: Pisgah Legal overwhelmed: Thousands seek help with evictions, job loss, domestic violence

While North Carolina is still operating under an eviction moratorium, Barrett says not every tenant is protected. The moratorium order only halts evictions for those unable to pay their rent but doesn't extend to lease violations or the expiration of a renter's lease term.

It can get more complicated, Barrett said, because "tenants who qualify for the moratorium may not know that they must first try to find assistance, then fill out the CDCform affidavit to avail themselves of the moratorium." Also,enforcement of the moratorium is difficult, and Barrett says some people are being evicted who should be protected by it. Further, some households that qualify for the winter moratorium in utility disconnects (because of age or disability)are also unaware of that right and don'task for it.

This may seem obvious, but keeping people housed helps keep everyone safe, in part because it's healthier for the housed, partly because it keeps them from having to live in congregate settings such as homeless shelters. Barrett pointed to arecent University of Pennsylvania study that estimated that for every 70 evictions, one COVID-19 death could result.

Our front-line staff and volunteers are reporting more frustration and panic from folks across Western North Carolina who are contacting us for help, and with good reason," Barrett said.

He noted that the the federal stimulus money is gone, winter is coming, utility usage rises in cold months, and the eviction moratorium and COVID-related unemployment benefits end on Dec. 31.

"And when the moratorium does end, renters will still need to pay any back rent that has accrued," Barrett said. "For many, that will be a hefty bill they will not be able to meet.

He calls it a "perfect storm" of events, and Barrett wants folks to urge elected state officials to tap into "rainy day" funds to help people in need.

We need to act now to secure more resources and work with state, federal and local governments to keep people housed so that the situation doesnt become significantly worse," Barrett said. "We certainly appreciate any and all community donations to make this work possible."

Evie White, communications director at Pisgah Legal, compiled this list of organizations to which you can donate to help with rent and housing issues:

Buncombe County

ABCCM: Utility Assistance, Rent Assistance Main location: 828-259-5300;

Eblen Charities: Utility Assistance, Rent Assistance 828-255-3066;

Pisgah Legal Services: 828-210-3444;

Salvation Army of Buncombe County: Utility Assistance, Rent Assistance 828-253-4723;

OnTrack WNC: Financial Counseling 828-255-5166;

Self-Help Credit Union: Small Business Lending 828-676-2196;

Homeward Bound: 828-258-1695;

Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries: (828) 669-9404;

Henderson County

Thrive: 828.697.1581;

Salvation Army of Hendersonville County - 828-693-4181;

Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey counties

WAMY Community Action 828-264-2421;

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or

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Answer Man: How bad is the rent crisis? How can I help? - Citizen Times

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:52 am

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Whats happening Monday in the north valley – Chico Enterprise-Record

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Editors note: Many events are canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend contacting the event host before attending to check.

Chico Seed Orchard: 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Visitors not allowed after dark. One-mile walking trail through botanical area in Edgar Slough. One restroom, no drinking water. Keep dogs leashed. 2741 Cramer Lane. Monday-Friday. No holidays.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area: Sunrise to sunset. 9,100 acres of fields, riparian areas, ponds and waterways. Exhibits, self-guided nature trail, fishing, hunting; shelter for 300+ species of resident and migrant birds, mammals. 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley. 846-7500.

Museum of Northern California Art (monca): Virtual only today. Exhibit, Selfie 2020. Juried exhibition about self after the first 10 months of 2020 and COVID. Over 40 unique works of art portray artists perspectives and visual history of life during COVID. 530-487-7272.

Chico Art Center: All virtual. The Art of Remembrance: El Dio de los Muertos. Art and altar exhibition. Open Studios Art Tour: Art and crafts online; learn about creative processes. Search for artists who offer in-person visits, purchase tour guides ($15) in Chico and Oroville at, 895-8726. Questions, (530) 895-8726 or Debra Simpson at . Gallery/exhibition questions, Cameron Kelly, or call (415) 823-4418.

Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology: Virtual. Unbroken Traditions: Basket-weavers of the Meadows-Bakers Family in Northern California. Also activities and online learning for families, K-12 learners and college students in the tour. 898-5397.

Janet Turner Print Museum: Virtual. Celebrating artist Wayne Thiebaud, who turned 100 on Nov. 15. Examines the artistry of Thiebaud and his circle, including Richard Diebenkorn and Roy DeForest. 898-4476.

Gateway Science Museum: Virtual. Mission Aerospace, temporary exhibition that explores the history of flight, navigation and NASAs vision for the future. Wildflowers, Watercolor & Wonder, the Edward Stuhl Collection. Ocean Commotion in the Discovery Room. Chico. 898-4121.

Faith Lutheran Church: 1 p.m. COVID-19 Phone Prayer Group. To join, email

Online choir for those experiencing Parkinsons Disease: 1-2:30 p.m. No singing experience necessary. Free online choir for people with Parkinsons Disease. Sessions by board-certified music therapists Erin Haley and Pam Sacha. Contact Pam,, for more information and to join online.

Vitalant Blood Drive: 8:15 a.m.-2 p.m. blood donation, 6:45 a.m.-1 p.m. platelet donation. 555 Rio Lindo Ave. Call 877-258-4825 or 893-5433 to confirm todays hours.

Catalyst Domestic Violence Services: To talk to a crisis counselor, call the 24-hour crisis/referral line, 1-800-895-8476. Temporary restraining order help for victims of domestic violence available free. Call 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday for appointments, individual counseling 343-7711.

Al-Anon (Alateens welcome): 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday Night Study AFG. Email for a Zoom invitation. zoomus. 342-5756. Weekly.

Iversen Wellness & Recovery Center and Med Clinic: All meetings via Zoom. 9 a.m. Morning Meditation & Conversations; 10 a.m. 12-Step; 11 a.m. Why Not Try?; Noon Grief and Loss; 1 p.m. Wellness videos; 2 p.m. Processing Group; 3 p.m. Music Group. Dial-in at 408-638-0968. Password 8793311. Meeting ID: 441-359-7014. Must be 18 or older. Monday through Friday. Call the Center, 879-3311, to talk to a Peer Assistant (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) by phone or Video Chat via Zoom with meeting ID: 482-729-8075, Password 8793311. Virtual Peer Listening Room, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. Wellness, 879-3311; Med Clinic, 879-3974; or 492 Rio Lindo Ave. Weekly.

HIV and Hepatitis C Testing: Through Stonewall Alliance by appointment. 358 E. Sixth St. Donations accepted. Information, 893-3336, email or visit

Northern Valley Talk Line: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Provides non-crisis peer to peer telephone service to the community seven days a week. 1-855-582-5554. Works in partnership with Butte County Department of Behavioral Health and Tehama County Health Service Agency.

Narcotics Anonymous: Noon, Chico NA, Zoom ID: 765 517 9374. Password: Gbana2020. Phone: 1-669-900-9128 765 517 9374#. 6 p.m. Chico Free to be Me LGBT. Zoom ID: 208 907 6618. Password: gbana. Call-in information unknown. 6 p.m. CNA, South Park Drive, Sycamore Fields at One Mile. Bring chairs or blankets. 7 p.m. Paradise Monday Night Speaker Zoom ID: 728 110215#. Password: gbana. Call in: 1-699-900-6833 728110215#. 24 hour meeting hotline 1-877-669-1669. Visit Greater Butte Area Narcotics Anonymous online for complete listings, calendar updates. 24-hour hotline: 1-877-669-1669.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Fellowship of Butte, Glenn and Southern Tehama counties hold meetings on Zoom. Visit or call 530-342-5756 for more information/updates. Four specific meetings plus four every-day meetings today.

Mental Health Peer Support: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Peer support specialists available for video chat, self-help support groups and resources. Butte County Department of Behavioral Health. Join by phone, computer or other device. Zoom ID: 809274979. Phone: 720-707-2699 or 346-248-7799.

Recovery International: 1, 4 and 5 p.m. Focus on symptoms, not diagnoses, of mental health and nervous disorders; stress, tension, anxiety, panic, mood disorders, fatigue, anger. Register: 1-619-383-2084 or email Temporary phone meetings available if community meetings are closed. Weekly.

Submit calendar listings, corrections or updates by email, fax 342-3617 or mail Enterprise-Record, P.O. Box 9, Chico, CA, 95927. Meetings via Zoom or other platforms may be listed.

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Whats happening Monday in the north valley - Chico Enterprise-Record

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:52 am

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Driving their way to self-reliance – The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

HYDERABAD:With the mantra women drivers for women commuters, a non-profit startup in Hyderabad is training women from marginalised sections to drive vehicles. Dhairya Foundation, which was founded last year, aims to increase the participation of women from lower income groups in the workforce.

Speaking to Express, the co-founder of the venture, Prasanna Dommu, said: Though the pandemic has thrown a spanner in our work, we have trained four women to drive auto-rickshaws till now. Most of these women want to ferry schoolchildren in their autos within five km radius of their houses. In this way, they can reach their homes quickly to fulfil their family duties. An auto driver can earn upto Rs 20,000 per month, which is much more than what they earn as domestic helps. The training is provided free of cost.

But teaching women how to drive comes with its set of social ramifications. During our registration drive, we noticed that the husbands and in-laws of most of the women were not comfortable with the idea of the women driving and becoming self-reliant. They want women to stick to the traditional jobs of cleaning and even tailoring. Many of the men, who are also drivers, did not want their wives to earn as much as they do, says Prasanna.

The startup, incubated at WE Hub, was founded by Prasanna and Tindu Nikhat. These two women, who used to work in the same company, bonded over their passion to create something which would have a social impact. Having experienced the safety risks women have to face in the absence of women drivers, they realised that training women to be drivers could have overreaching effects on how women perceive public spaces.

Millions of women in India are from economically-weak backgrounds and survive on a day-to-day basis with no steady source of income. Most of these women are illiterate or have only rudimentary education, which forces them to depend on unsteady jobs like domestic help, daily labour, factory workers, etc. to earn a livelihood. Many of them, especially those who are single (widowed, never married or abandoned), subsist on incentives and loans extended by self-help groups, which though a major source of support, do not often equip these women with skills that translate into income generation in the long run.

"Lack of awareness and basic skills limit such women from utilising their potential and abilities to become financially independent, says Prasanna, who has 15 years of experience of working in diverse industries such as infrastructure, food, FMCG and IT. Currently, the startup is focussing on holding a crowdfunding campaign to enable the four trained women buy the auto-rickshaws they are driving. They are also training women to drive bikes, so that they can be recruited by e-commerce companies as delivery executives.

Kakoli Mukherjee @KakoliMukherje2

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Driving their way to self-reliance - The New Indian Express

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November 24th, 2020 at 7:52 am

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This Constructed Self of Mine: On the Narrative Possibilities of Racial Melancholia – lareviewofbooks

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NOVEMBER 23, 2020

A THERAPIST ONCE ASKED me if Id felt lonely or excluded growing up. This was our first (and, as it turns out, last) session together. Having apparently displayed the hallmarks of early under-socialization within 20 minutes of us meeting, I answered something like, I was one of the only Asian kids at a very white school, I guess before he cut me off. I meant independently of that, he clarified, gazing up from his legal pad toward me, as if I wasnt thinking hard enough. In the moment I actually tried to answer his question, to explain myself and my existence independently of race. But when our time ran out, and I emerged from his dark basement office into the crisp afternoon sun, I realized that his sort of questioning had a lot to do with why Id sought out therapy in the first place.

That memory recently resurfaced after reading Cathy Park Hongs Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, which opens with her mental breakdown and subsequent pursuit of a specifically Korean American therapist so I wouldnt have to explain myself as much, Hong adds, which struck a chord, as did the sentiment that shes struggled to prove herself into existence for as long as she can remember. At a reading in Brooklyn, for example, a white man informs Hong that minorities cant be racist against each other, and that Asians the next in line to be white. (Reading the scene, my eyes roll all the way into the back of my skull.) Likewise, Hong balks at finding herself in the familiar predicament of not just educating a white person about race, but also testifying to the ontological legitimacy of her experience as an Asian American woman, knowing that her adversary has all of Western history, politics, literature, and mass culture on their side. I understood Hongs preference for a Korean American therapist as an attempt to rectify this imbalance, to find a witness who in their cultural affinity, would likely validate rather than question, dismiss, or effectively gaslight her version of reality. Lacking a witness, Hongs self-judgment is impaired and her self-doubt intensified. What she believes is an unprovoked decline thus unfolds as the by-product of this unrelenting pattern, like a lifelong affliction flaring up: having internalized the white gaze through a lifetimes conditioning, Hongs compulsive self-loathing becomes aggravated by racist gaslighting that insists these symptoms originate with her alone.

Published earlier this year, Hongs Asian American Reckoning aptly arrived within a moment of widespread reckoning with the legacy of colonialism. The white, mainstream perception of what constitutes racism is necessarily evolving toward a systemic understanding and as a result, attention is redirecting toward symptoms and sites of racism that were previously overlooked. In this context, a growing body of literature by women of color illustrates the influence of both race and gender on mental health outcomes, taking second-wave feminisms axiom the personal is political to probe the space between intensely private suffering and the public, politicized self. Put another way, such texts demonstrate how racism, once internalized, manifests in the private and interior life as depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders, which arent just suffered but often analyzed on an individual basis. Western culture prefers to conceptualize mental illnesses in terms of chemical imbalance, which disregards the way in which mental health is often highly situational not solely contingent upon individual biologies or specific traumas, but both caused and exacerbated by broader social contexts. This paradigm has historically plagued women of color, who are more likely to encounter the effects of discrimination yet less likely to attain effective mental health care, a confluence of factors that not only prolongs but augments their suffering.

To this dialogue, Hong adds the term minor feelings to describe the racialized range of negative affective qualities that are built from the sediments of everyday racial experience, rather than from acute incidents of racism alone. In borrowing from Sianne Ngais ugly feelings, Hong notes that its difficult to even recognize let alone reckon with minor feelings, since they closely resemble the somewhat ubiquitous symptoms of surviving late capitalism: both entail ongoing rather than acute experiences of irritability, hopelessness, and exhaustion, within conditions that individuals are praised for (or rather, forced into) enduring, rather than encouraged to question or subvert. In Hongs minor feelings, I heard echoes of the racial melancholia described by professor David Eng and psychotherapist Shinhee Han in their book on the subject, which they co-authored after noticing, in their respective roles at Columbia University, the wave of depression experienced by Asian American students. As with Hongs minor feelings, Eng and Han distinguish racial melancholia from the grief which arises following identifiable loss; what they observed was a more amorphous form of permanent mourning, as Hua Hsu put it in The New Yorker: a form was produced or exacerbated by racial contexts, and that involved the additional stress of pinpointing an identifiable root of a seemingly causeless condition.

In each of these cases, semantic nuance provides not just common language, but equal grounds for a more equitable and effective patient-therapist relationship. This is particularly pertinent for BIPOC patients, whose cultural backgrounds often foster skepticism of, if not aversion to, mental health-care services: apart from the prohibitive cost of treatment, recent census data reveals that 86 percent of US psychologists are white, [1]a demographic that increases the likelihood of social inequities amplifying the preexisting power asymmetry that inherently exists between patient and clinician. Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott explores this dynamic in her debut essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, which begins during her first therapy session with a white, male therapist. The scenario bears an unsettling resemblance to residential schools: Elliott likens her therapists role in curing her depression to the priests and nuns who cured her ancestors of being Indian. You need to give me something here, demands Elliotts therapist, when shes unable to identify the specific cause of her depression, in the process replicating the colonial power inequity that has contributed to her despondency. As in Hongs case, Elliotts onus is one of ontological proof: shes berated for not saying the right words to explain herself and her situation, an act of self-translation dictated by the colonizers lexicon and limited legibility.

Lost in cultural translation, Elliott underscores the inherent incompatibility between Indigenous experience and the mental health-care system; beyond the sticks-and-stones brutality of occupation, colonialisms erasures are felt through the words or rather, lack thereof, that contribute to the mistreatment of Indigenous patients. Mainstream frameworks preclude the influence of social factors upon mental health outcomes, which compounds the crucial lexical gaps within Indigenous languages: the books title, for example, comes from the closest Mohawk equivalent for depression, which groups together both reactive depression and endogenous depression, the latter recalling Hongs minor feelings and the racial melancholia described by Eng and Han. If we had more terms and definitions backing up our understanding of depression, Elliott writes, would we have been better equipped to deal with it when its effects began tearing our communities apart? In other words, what gets lost with generality is the agency to understand and effectively treat variants of depression. This, alongside related factors, drives disproportionate suicide rates: a rare occurrence in Six Nations communities pre-colonization, suicide is now the leading cause of death for Native people under 44. Concretizing this loss, Elliott likens the Canadian government to an abusive father, its occupation of Native land to attending an Indigenous funeral every day, maybe even two funerals, for five to ten years. These analogies convey traumas as intimate as they are inescapable, ones that reverberate through communities and, in the process, generate aftershocks within individual and interior lives.

Failed by therapy, Elliott resorts to self-diagnosis through the Depression Inventory in a self-help book and notes that her symptoms of guilt, hopelessness, and self-criticism basically double as a checklist for the effects of colonialism on our people. Making this parallel, Elliott implies that colonialism and depression arent just inextricably linked but in many ways interchangeable aspects of Indigenous experience. In Racial Melancholia, Cheng suggests this relationship between racism and melancholia can go both ways; that [o]ne isnt melancholy simply because of the experience of racism, but rather, that melancholy and its dynamics of loss and recovery can eventually become foundations for racial identity. Put differently, Chengs projection elucidates what Id loosely call a psycho-postcolonial reading: if the sociologist would interpret Elliotts depression as representative of larger a demographic, a psycho-postcolonial reading could complement this view, taking the interior space as a vital vehicle through which both internal and broader cultural insights are gleaned, a space through which identity is both refracted and possibly reconstructed.

Phrased another way, the act of self-reconstruction is that of self-narrativization; an act more difficult but for that reason necessary for women of color, who risk being subsumed by the master narratives of society. In that spirit, Margo Jeffersons Negroland grapples with questions of self-narrativization as theyre informed by growing up in Chicagos Black elite during the 1950s and 1960s. Negroland, as Jefferson calls it, exists like a third space or borderland between whites and Blacks, a place defined in both physical and attitudinal terms, one that sustains and is sustained by a pernicious cultural narrative: that racial equality is contingent upon Blacks proving their likeness to whites. Though hers was a community of relative privilege and plenty, Jefferson contrasts the tonal range of white entitlement with the conditional privilege of Blacks, which was confined within strict lanes of social decorum since Blacks, intimating and internalizing the double-standard set by whites, demanded perfect mastery of comportments rituals from Jefferson. In this way, the premise of class ascension equated to another type of confinement, since notions of Black freedom precluded the freedom to fail. With external failure out of the question, Jefferson writes, internal discord seemed the only protest mode, a way to reclaim the self that had been claustrophobically crowded out by social codes. In Jeffersons case, this internal discord escalates into suicidal ideation.

If the notion of death allures Jefferson with the promise of freedom, then its concrete realization bears the prescriptiveness of her life: on one hand, she feels the obligation to give the other girls of Negroland a death they can live up to, yet on the other, any rebellion is fundamentally denied the privilege of freely yielding to depression, of flaunting neurosis as a mark of social and psychic complexity, as is glorified in the literature of white female suffering and resistance. If Black subjectivity, in other words, must be earned, then the complexity of emotional turmoil at least as it is enjoyed and narrativized by white women is almost completely out of the question. Where white female vulnerability is valorized and Black female strength expected, Jefferson finds idols in Adrienne Kennedy, Nella Larsen, and Ntozake Shange, writers who carved out their own space between these two narrative poles, managing to adapt [their] solo life, Jefferson writes, to a group obbligato. The alternative is to risk defaulting to white narratives, none more enticing than the fantasies fabricated from white ideals. Jefferson chides her childhood self for being cheerily sure, for example, that washing her hair would turn it blonde; the adult Jefferson reprimands herself for submitting to the illusion, recoils from its implications. No one escapes her time and place, she writes, like an incantation, talking herself down with the words of her therapist: A fantasy is a construction, she continues, before finding some slight reprieve in a Chekovian moment, and the realization that the generations that come after will not have to endure these shaming constructions, the ugly stories that wove in and out of her life, threatening to end it.

In unraveling her story on the page, allowing and in fact challenging it to be necessarily messy, Jefferson leaves a record in this archive of ugly stories and shaming constructions that, by its sheer existence, proves the possibility of alternative narratives. Which is not to say that Jefferson finds her own narrative exceptional, or even satisfactory. The human psyche is pathetic, she maintains, to the very end, adding on her memoirs final page that there are days when I still want to dismantle this constructed self of mine. Its not clear, here, which constructed self Jefferson is alluding to: the constructed self of her text, or the one she constructs, and reconstructs, in a collaborative effort with her psychotherapist each week. Possibly neither, though maybe the distinctions are somewhat redundant in this case. With the words of her therapist recurring intermittently throughout her memoir, Jefferson maintains the spaces of therapy and of literature as complementary sites of active narrativization, each informing the other. In real life, in literature, and on-screen, its still relatively rare to observe women of color in therapy; Jeffersons memoir crucially normalizes this practice. Beyond its representational value, however, involving therapy as a type of genre importantly gestures toward questions of narrativization: how might women of color, through acts of self-construction, effectively narrativize their own suffering within a culture that has historically resisted such stories?

Hong pursues this project more explicitly. She parses the conventions of contemporary American literature in her essay Stand Up, an analysis of Richard Pryors comedy and relatedly, the evolution of her self-expression through a brief stint in comedy. By inviting stand-up and other nontraditional forms to inform her literature, Hong loosens the authority of conventional literary forms as theyre espoused by institutions of narrativization not only the hallowed halls of MFA programs and award committees, but also the stories that are written and revered by white men (though these categories, of course, share great overlap). In a later essay on The End of White Innocence, Hong contrasts enduring archetypes of nostalgic and wholesome white childhood with popular minority literatures, which often proceed through a bildungsroman of survival and self-determination. These proclivities, bordering on propaganda, furnish a certain politics: one that, in its obsession with self-sufficiency, bolsters the model minority myth and subsequently undermines a structural understanding of racism; one that is sympathetic to the missteps of white men, even at the expense of already marginalized people; one that recognizes racism or racial trauma solely in its spectacle-like, Hollywood-worthy form. No wonder Hong describes her experiences as specifically untelegenic, Elliott similarly noting her story isnt the normal, charming, made-for-TV type of dysfunctional. In art, as in life, the white gaze remains trained on the most visible, acute, or sensational incidents of racism above the waterline, ones that offer neat conclusions and as a bonus, self-congratulatory story lines. As a result, the everyday grievances of racial minorities call them minor feelings, racial melancholia, or endogenous depression disappear under the surface, literally out of sight and, accordingly, out of public mind.

In the process, women of color continue to be compromised, their lives dismantled if not by disorder then by degrees: Elliott, for example, prefers faking intimacy in new friendships to explaining herself anew; Jefferson identifies with Nella Larsens heroines, who stumble into suicide less by intention and more by misadventure or miscalculation, through avoiding stringent self-reflection; Hong feels consistently ghosted, inherently skeptical of the version of reality which she sees and hears. Though if dismantling occurs incrementally, so too can the process of self-reconstruction: by writing intimately, with stringent self-reflection, and through the eyes and ears of a specific subjectivity that society continues to deny. In these ways, Hong, Elliott, and Jefferson crucially construct both selves and self-witnesses, entities both of and outside themselves.

Kim Hew-Low is a writer based in New York City. She is currently pursuing an MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia University.

[1] According to 2015 census data.

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This Constructed Self of Mine: On the Narrative Possibilities of Racial Melancholia - lareviewofbooks

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10 Habits Of Resilient Employees And How Company Leaders Can Support Them – Forbes

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When employees and employers have mutual trust and support, resilience is inevitable, and both ... [+] benefit.

Dont tell me the skys the limit when there are footprints on the moon.Paul Brandt

Its not accidental that some companies have higher employee engagement, morale and productivity and lower absenteeism, burnout and turnover. What are they doing that separates them from organizations lagging behind? They make employee resilience and well-being top priority. But theres an irony to this story. By putting employee self-care at the top of the list, top-notch companies automatically boost the organizations bottom line.

A Winning Frame Of Mind

Michele Sullivan, former President of the Caterpillar Foundation, was born with a rare form of dwarfism that created many challenges in her daily life. She is the epitome of a resilient corporate leader, having once told me: For you, having a door held may be a very nice gesture from a stranger. For me, it is a requirement to enter most buildings that do not have automatic doors. It requires me to ask for a lot of help, and once I finally learned to embrace that reality, the universe answered back with thunderous support. Where I had once seen obstacles, I changed my perspective and viewed them instead as advantages. I now call this the Looking Up philosophy, and it is how I live my life each day.

Michele is so caught up in looking at the advantages that they eclipse her losses. Shes a challenged woman living a rich life, simply because of her perspective. Few of us have Micheles challenge and still have difficulty coping. Compare Micheles perspective to that of Ralph, who came barreling into my office during tax season, slinging his backpack onto the sofa and spurting curse words. When I asked him what was the matter, he groaned that he had to pay a half million dollars in taxes. When I asked how much he made for the year, he offhandedly mumbled, Oh, five or six million. Ralph was so caught up in his loss that it eclipsed his gaina rich man living an impoverished life.

Some career people are born with pit-bull determination, less affected by stressful situations and more resilient to change. Others are more vulnerable to the arrows of everyday pressures. But regardless of where you fall, you can cultivate a winning frame of mind also known as a growth mindsetthe belief that defeat happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider success and failure a package deallike a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same cointwins, not enemies. Its an understanding that avoidance of failure morphs into avoidance of success. In order to attain what you want, you recognize you must be willing to accept what you dont want. Instead of giving up, you welcome obstacles, setbacks and disappointmentsno matter how painful, frustrating, big or smallas opportunities to grow and learn instead of as defeat.

You think of defeat as a personal trainer when hopelessness sets in after a setback: an impossible deadline, a lousy review from your boss, a missed promotion or the rumble of your own self-doubt. You tell yourself you want to give up, but you dont really want to quit. You just want the hurt and disappointment to stop, understandably so. At the time that might feel like the only option, but it isnt. Perhaps you havent actually failed. Chances are, failure is what you call it when you dont meet career expectations, things dont turn out the way you planned or youre simply traversing a valley that everyone goes through before reaching the mountain of success. Failure is heartbreaking, but it can also be an impetus to keep going when you possess the following traits:

10 Habits of Resilient Employees

1. Grow thick skin and expect rejection and setbacks. Commit yourself in advance to facing the many smack downs you will encounter like all successful people before you.

2. Ditch the desire for comfort and step into growth pains. Be willing to go to the edge of your emotional pain so you can be fully present with what lays beyond the barrier.

3. Be willing to postpone immediate gratification in the short term for the fulfillment of your goals in the long term.

4. Cultivate spring back sustainability. Think of yourself as an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than you fall.

5. Refer to previous experience. Reflect on past obstacles youve overcome in your climb. Point to lessons learned and your personal resources and underscore ways you have grown stronger through past hard knocks.

6. Identify self-doubts that have cramped your work style or crippled you from growing fully. Harness theminstead of running from themand channel them into useful skills so they dont paralyze you.

7. Stay off the roller coaster. Manage the ups-and-downs of your life by treating highs and lows equally. Celebrate the highs but dont take them any more seriously than the lows, and dont take smack downs any more seriously than upswings.

8. Eschew the what-the-hell effect. This attitude only adds insult to injury. Face letdowns by taking the towel you want to throw in and use it to wipe the sweat off your face then ask, what you can learn that will help you grow.

9. Practice positive self-talk and optimism. Avoid negative put-downs and criticisms. Instead of bludgeoning yourself after a setback, give yourself positive affirmations and encouragement to get back in the saddle.

10. Catch yourself when you fall. After a setback or discouraging situation, your motivation bounces back quicker when you support yourself with compassion. Instead of kicking yourself when youre down, be on your own side, wish yourself well, and be your number one cheerleader as you progress on your career trajectory.

Exemplary Companies Support Workforce Resilience

In order to achieve your career goals and move the company in the right direction, resilient workers need the support of upper management. When an employers support is absent, workers feel like theyre on an island on their own. Truth be told, they are. Several 2020 surveys show that the American workforce feels unappreciated and ignored from higher-ups and gratitude and appreciation is what they want to improve their engagement, performance and mental health. Although resilience is each workers individual responsibility, its difficult to accomplishno matter how resilient, motivated and devoted to the jobif the employer isnt on board with their well-being. But when companies put policies in place that foster workplace resilience, everybody benefits. So what does resilient leadership look like?

In a resilient workplace, company higher-ups make employee mental and physical health a priority.They have a clear vision for workers and display strong, confident leadership. They give meaningful and balanced feedback and dole out appreciation and gratitude like throwing doubloons at a Mardi Gras parade. Resilient companies prioritize self-care and understand it goes hand in hand with job performance. They listen to employees and show empathy, factoring worker concerns into their decision making. They are committed to creating psychological safety and open communication, and they set the stage by example. When resilient leaders are wrong, dont have an answer or make a mistake, they admit it instead of covering it up, and they encourage employees to do the same. This type of honesty builds mutual trust and provides psychological safety, giving employees autonomy to make decisions and think outside the box without fear of reprisal.

Once you have the support of a successful workplace in your hip pocket, the rest is up to your growth mindset. You start to accept failure as an essential stepping-stone to career success, you give yourself permission to make the mistakes necessary to get where you want to go. The more you accept failure, the more opportunities you have to accept success and bounce back higher than you fall. And every time you failinstead of giving upyou do what every successful career climber before you did: take the towel you want to throw in, wipe the sweat off your brow and plot your next forward move.

10 Habits Of Resilient Employees And How Company Leaders Can Support Them - Forbes

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