September 14, 2012

Vinfen is a vendor that provides some services to clients of the Department of Mental Health.  I was told by the person whom I spoke to at Homeless Outreach at the Department of Mental Health that I had to get signed up with Vinfen to be on the waitlist for a DMH transitional shelter.  Although I’m sure that a DMH shelter wouldn’t be a place where most people would want to live if they had their choice of anywhere to live, I wouldn’t have to worry every morning, every week, or every few months about where I was going to sleep at night.  I could start doing more to find work, for one thing.

When I went for my first appointment at the Vinfen office to which I’d been assigned, one of the people whom I met with and who has been there for a while told me that there is an employment specialist there who can do direct job placement, actually put you in a job.  I thought I hadn’t heard her right, so I asked her specifically “She has contacts with employers and can put people into situations where they are working?”  She said “Yes.”

I got the card of the employment specialist during that appointment, which was a few weeks ago, and I called the number on it.  She said that she was in a meeting and that she would call me back; she didn’t call me back.

I tried to call again another time; I was outside and the first person whom I spoke to said that it was a bad connection.  I left a message for the employment specialist saying that I was still interested in finding work, and asked her to call me; she didn’t.

The next thing that I tried was to call and leave a voice mail for the person who had told me that the employment specialist does job placement, and to tell her that I was still interested in working and in finding out about job training options and that the person had not called me back.  I explained that maybe the second time that I had called the employment specialist, she hadn’t been able to hear the message clearly.  She didn’t call me back, and the employment specialist still hasn’t called me, either.

I called the person with whom I’d been in contact at the Department of Mental Health to ask where I was on the waiting list for the transitional shelter; talk about sitting by the phone.  I never sat futilely by the phone for so many people at once in my life, not even during the times in my life when I was most rejected by men.

I don’t even want to be signed up with the Department of Mental Health.  I certainly didn’t want to have to resume the identity of a mental patient for any reason, but I finally felt that being homeless was taking up all of my personal, mental and emotional resources and much of my time, was not doing my mental health any favors, and that I hadn’t achieved the goals of finding work and housing that I’d meant to achieve when I got to Boston more than a year ago in a reasonable amount of time.

Copyright L. Kochman, September 14, 2012 @ 3:33 p.m.