There Are Thousands of Women Like Me

I am a forty year old woman who moved to this community over ten years ago. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and had lived for most of their lives in NYC where they were employed. I have two daughters, ages 20 and two and a nine year old son. I am separated from my husband and my son stays with him when school is in session. My 20 year old daughter went to BCC and is now trying to find work in NYC. There is not much work here for young people.

   No Time for Myself                                                                                                                               I have two part time jobs that require me to work over sixty hours in most weeks. I work in a clinic office 32 hours weekly and also take care of a person with disabilities about 30 hours weekly. The person with disabilities can often be difficult to look after.

How the Day Goes                                                                                                                                  I get up at 6:00 a.m., shower, and lay out my two year olds clothes and breakfast. I drive her to day care and then proceed to my day time job where I work from 8:00—4:30. After work I pick up my young daughter and drive her to the baby sitter. Then I go to my night job. My son lives with his father because his father has more free time.

Education and Work Experience                                                                                                           I have a degree and have been trained as a teacher. I worked in the NYC schools for seven years until cuts came in the school system. Later I became a case manager for workers displaced by the 9/11 attack and as a grief counsellor for families who had lost a family member in the attack. I worked in the Bronx helping get FEMA money to the undocumented displaced workers. There were many undocumented workers, mainly Mexican who were employed in the restaurants in the Trade Centers. I am bilingual.

Reason for Moving to This Area—- Good Schools                                                                          Many of the schools in NYC are terrible. The system is very difficult on so many decent students. I just couldn’t put my daughter in there any longer. I had a cousin here and I discovered that the school systems were great for my children.

After arriving in this community I took a job at Kmart, in a hospital and later in the Johnson City Mall. There are just so few decent jobs in this area. I am hoping that my job as an office manager will become full time so that I can begin to lead a decent life. Paying bills is difficult with the pay so many of us receive. I was behind in my NYSEG bill and received a call from a nasty woman who seemed to be suggesting that I prostitute myself in order to make my payments. I sent a letter to the Public Service Commission about this.

A Person of Puerto Rican Heritage and Discrimination                                                                      Most of the people here in Broome County have been very nice to me. There is some underlying racism but because I am so light skinned I do not experience it. My mother is Afro Caribbean and because she is darker she experienced much more racism than I have.

Housing                                                                                                                                               The cost to rent here is cheaper than in NYC but it is balanced out by the lack of decent paying jobs. For what we can afford to pay it is still expensive. While there are many slum lords here that just do not want to make basic repairs, there are many who are decent. There is of course the fact that a couple of college students can out bid many of us workers for the better housing.

Future for You and Our Community— Will You Be Staying?                                                             I am a good worker, I am educated, bilingual and I like this community. I want to remain here but I must move to another area if I find a job that will pay better wages. As I get older I am finding it tougher to work so many hours per week and raise my family. The jobs, especially decent ones, do not exist here.

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