Thursday, February 19, 2009, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living's Disability Empowerment Center of Arizona held its grand opening. I was privileged to attend. I'll blog more about it later, but wanted to share some of the photos my brother, David Crook, took. Click in the boxes themselves to go to the site that shows all the pictures and allows you to see them in better resolution.
Archives for February 2009
Been ripped off by a teenage con artist? Here are some ideas for handling such a difficult situation, depending on the kind of fraud that was perpetrated. In this case, let’s assume your teenager invited someone to stay for a few days because s/he didn’t have any place to stay and seemed to be so needy and innocent. And this teenager has lived in the community for a long time and knows some of your teenager’s friends well. Several days later, you discover your son’s ATM account was emptied of $400. He and his guest went grocery shopping a few times, so that must have been when the “friend” memorized the PIN. A day later, the “friend” is gone. And took some expensive clothing along with an emergency credit card in your son’s wallet. Once you’ve discovered what was stolen, consider the following: Immediately change all the locks on all the doors. All of them! He probably had spare keys made. It’s easy to do, just using foam, chewing gum, or even just tracing the key on paper. My guess is he planned it and will be back or sell the keys. They do that. It may not be the “friend” who returns, but some druggie he has sold your house key and info to. They often case a place and sell the knowledge to people for drugs. This kid doesn’t sound like he’s a stranger to this. Contact the police department and tell them you want to file a theft complaint. The person whose credit/debit card was used will have to agree to press charges. If you press charges, the bank will have to honor the fraud claim if they were notified within 24 hours of the incident(s). Keep going higher up the chain until you find someone who will sympathize with you. If they won’t provide any help, ask them if they would put this in writing. Once you have it in writing, insist that the bank show you their written policy, and tell the bank employee that you are going to take it to the local newspaper because you want to protect other people from this “friend.” Write a letter to the bank and mail it certified mail, detailing the dates and time etc. and asking that they release a copy of the photo of the person who used the ATM card. They have it, even if they claim they don’t. In the certified letter, tell them they have 10 days to produce the photo for the police or you will refer it to an attorney for further legal action. Call the newspaper and ask to speak with a reporter. BRIEFLY tell them your story and ask if you can email the details. Indicate that you don’t want justice: you want to protect other people as this teenager is still out there. Call the local homeless shelters with your story and a description and a copy of the ATM photo. Ask shelter folks to report the teenager to the police if they see him. They like the alert. Post this story on CraigsList in and around the area where it occurred. Don’t use the person’s name until AFTER you get the ATM photo. Post the ATM photo. Tweet the URL of the CraigsList notice. Be persistent. So many people rip off banks, saying they had their ATM stolen or misused, and then won’t press charges that banks are reluctant to believe the victim. If the bank won’t cooperate: move your accounts. Usually that gets their attention, if you say you’ll not only move all your accounts, but that you’ll blog about the experience and tell all your friends, online and locally! Be persistent and insist on getting the reasons why they are refusing to make good on the account in writing. Tell the newspaper this: that real victims are being revictimized by criminals who pose as victims! It’s a story. Call the Assistant District Attorney and tell him/her you want to press charges. If you won’t press charges and go to court over it, no one will do anything for you. Sorry, but that’s our court system. This happens all the time. ALWAYS listen to your intuition!! It is NEVER wrong! Better to be rude than ripped off. I know you were trying to help, but if your gut says “Something’s not right,” believe it! The bank may say that your son gave the friend the PIN, but it it isn’t true, stick to your guns. Police still arrest someone who knows where your car keys are and takes your car without permission. He did NOT willingly give his “friend” the pin number, and it’s up to them to prove he did. People who’ve been ripped off have to decide what it is worth to them, but at the very least, they should insist on filing a police report. It is their right to do so. Also, tell police ALL of the people involved. They’ll want to talk to them. Keep repeating, “I’m afraid he’ll do this to other people.” Your son’s mutual friend may either be in on it (really, sad but true), or know where the con artist is. The police know how to lean on folks and can tell in a minute if they’re lying. They’re really good at that! So, be persistent! Check your state laws, as they do vary. The bottom line is, trust your intuition. The person in this article is lucky the “friend” wasn’t a serial killer or violent. Honest people will understand and respect your boundaries. If you really want to help someone with no place to stay, call the police or social services. There are agencies that help who are better equipped than you to deal with such situations. If you still want to help the occasional buddy who’s homeless, and you live out in the country, buy a small, used RV or trailer or build a small shed with a shower/toilet for a guesthouse. It’s better than what many people have and they’ll appreciate any dry, warm bed. Trust me: they will. Even people you do know can rip you off. Be careful. • Keep valuables locked up • Don’t store checks or credit cards in drawers etc. • Lock up jewelry as well. • A floor safe is the best - or one that bolts to the beams in a wall. You can find good ones for under $200 or even $100 for small items like cameras etc. • Have a dog or two: ones that bark • Have security alarms and security lights • Have dead bolts and good locks The above will be your best protection from strangers. Sadly, most thefts and sexual abuse comes from family members and neighbors! There are lots of online sources, but the most important thing I always taught in situations like this was, “Trust your gut. Your intuition is ALWAYS right.” Becky Blanton, who spent a year of homelessness, has always had an interest in the field of law enforcement, and graduated from a police academy in Colorado some years ago. And she taught safety classes as a guest speaker at some sororities and dorms at The University of Tennessee. More recently, she’s been a journalist, photographer, ghostwriter, entrepreneur, and mentor, providing small business solutions and giving presentations to nonprofits and small businesses. Blanton just won a trip to the TED Global conference in Oxford, England this summer, courtesy of Daniel Pink and the 7th Johnny Bunko Lesson.
By Judy Vorfeld PEORIA, ARIZONA—1988 Not again! I searched the car's interior carefully before admitting defeat. Even with pierced ears, I'd managed to lose not just one, as I'd done in 1971, but two earrings. And these were expensive. Emerging from the blast furnace of our garage into our cool home, I'd almost decided not to tell my husband. I didn't know how he'd respond. Would he laugh, be solemn, or turn into the "Finder of Missing Earrings" as he'd done years ago in Hawaii? In 1971, Honolulu had been my home for five years. Most people think of Hawaii as an island paradise. The rich scents of ginger and plumerias; the soft cooing of silver doves; and the powerful Pacific Ocean sparkling with blue-green iridescence: all have a soothing, sedative effect on the human soul. However, I knew a person could live in Hawaii and constantly dodge little black clouds. I'd been through a painful divorce, felt inadequate as a parent, and lived daily on the edge of economic calamity. OAHU SUGAR COMPANY I worked as a secretary for Amfac in downtown Honolulu. One sparkling April day my boss, John—a vice president—and I were discussing the various divisions of the corporation, when he mentioned the Agricultural Division. He pointed out the window, past Pearl Harbor, to the low-rising hills of Waipahu. The twin smokestacks of Oahu Sugar Company rose to meet the feisty, blue-gray clouds. He asked if I'd like to tour that plantation, owned by the corporation. Yes! A couple of days later we ended up at Oahu Sugar Company in the Spartan office of his friend, Jack, the Factory Superintendent. The three of us lunched at Pearl City Tavern. By the time we'd finished, I was captivated by the quiet charm of my boss's long-time friend. The next few hours rushed by. We witnessed haul cane trucks racing between field and factory. We stood by a field of burning sugar cane, surrounded by smoke, then moved on to the factory, where the huge trucks unloaded burned cane stalks onto giant conveyor belts. From there we walked through the enormous boiler room and the lab, into the area where red-hot furnaces devoured great mounds of shimmering bagasse. Finally we drove several miles to Ewa Plantation, a recent company acquisition, for a brief walk-through. EWA FACTORY: LOST AN EARRING All too soon it was time to return to Honolulu. As we reached the car, I discovered that one of my earrings was missing. I pretended indifference, although it was the only nice set of earrings I owned. Without any urging, Jack and John backtracked into the factory, then carefully inspected a nearby patch of lawn. Nothing. The following day Jack called me at work. He'd found the missing earring, and asked if he could deliver it and take me out to dinner. Another "yes." As we enjoyed our meal in the soft orange glow of a classic Hawaiian sunset, he described how he'd found the elusive earring: at daybreak, he'd driven from Waipahu to Ewa. After going through the factory, he went over to the patch of lawn. The little silver clip sat on top of the dew-covered, freshly mown grass. ENGAGEMENT & RESIGNATION Soon I gathered up enough courage to invite Jack to dinner. Another "yes!" That very evening we ended up at Diamond Head Lighthouse tentatively discussing our future. The following weeks radiated with laughter, joy and happy confusion. We decided to marry in July. On June 20, Jack sent the following note to my boss:
Dear John: It is with great regret (yours, not mine), that I must inform you that you will have to find yourself a new secretary. I am afraid this happens to be of your own doing. My advice to you for the future: don't take your secretary to lunch with unattached males.Toward the end of June, Jack asked for the silver earrings. Just before the wedding, he returned the silver clips, now encased in transparent resin and set on a koa wood base. We talked about the day of the plantation tour. He said I'd hidden the earring, then driven out from Honolulu that night and left it on the grass. I said he'd hidden it so he would have an excuse to see me again. I'm sure I was correct. Jack's brother Bob and his wife, Wilma, arranged for our wedding in a charming faded green church at Honokohua, Maui. The Rev. John Kukahiko arrived late. He'd been blessing the opening of the Makawao Rodeo. Shuffling down the aisle, the elderly man greeted the four of us, opened his briefcases, whipped out his wrinkled black robe, Bible, and the paperwork. We got on with the ceremony. An hour or so later as we stood on Bob and Wilma's lanai, I idly fingered one of the elegant jade earrings Jack had given me as a wedding gift. I knew I was the luckiest woman alive. Two years later, Jack retired and we moved to Arizona. The tapestry of our lives grew as we weathered conditions common to most families. One day I stopped at a shopping center after work. Exiting the car, I swung my handbag in front of me and knocked off an earring. I slowly backed into the 100 degree heat, looking all around. No luck. Just like the Ewa earring. I removed the remaining earring and placed it in a depression between the front seats, and finished my errands. Arriving home, I grabbed my packages, and realized I'd lost the other earring! Although the garage was unbearably hot, I searched inside the little yellow car. Nothing. Entering the house, I moved into the warmth of Jack's welcoming embrace. I decided to tell him about the latest earring episode, even if he teased me. After all, I thought, he was skilled at finding lost jewelry. ANOTHER LOST EARRING I decided to take a shower. As I undressed, the first earring dropped to the floor. Great! But where was the other one? Oh, well . . . The following afternoon I walked into the bedroom and spotted something on my dressing table. There, glistening on top of a piece of paper, were both earrings. The note said, "Found by the greatest earring finder the world has ever known." I don't know how Jack found that little earring, then or in 1971. I do know I have a husband who doesn't give up easily. Sometimes I've thought his tenacity was nothing but stubbornness. Mostly, however, that trait has been a valuable asset. His wonderful persistence contributed to the discovery of one lost woman and two elusive earrings. Note: Jack died in 2004. And 33 wild, wonderful, sometimes stormy, vibrant, magnificent years! I miss him, but I say thanks every day because we both had second lives full of relevance...and a huge, growing, totally cool family to boot...Judy Vorfeld
Announcing the Southern Arizona Disability Rights and Resources Conference on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at the Windemere Hotel and Conference Center. Deadline for registration is March 23, 2009. Only 200 seats available. Who should attend? Anyone who answers "yes" to any of the following questions:
- Have you ever been told you can't do a job or work at all because of your disability?
- Are you concerned about your child's educational services and transitions into adult life?
- Has your child been on a waiting list for DD services?
- Do you want to learn how to live a healthier life with a disability?
- Are you concerned about life transitions and planning as you and your family are aging?
- Have you ever experienced difficulty locating affordable and accessible housing?
- Family members of children and adults with disabilities
- Adults and elders with disabilities
- People who support individuals with disabilities