Thursday, October 4, 2007

Day Three - "Fowl Weather"

My Fowl Friends . . .

Chickens and turkeys

Ducks taking a bath during the rainstorm


It was a [dark and stormy night] rainy, "fowl" day.

Today was not a very productive day. I was really tired and slept an extra hour this morning. That was really helpful. Then I was to the point on my schedule where the homes are further apart so I spent a lot more time driving. And then ... it started to rain. Fortunately, I had planned ahead and had gotten a pretty pink umbrella from Walmart so only my feet got "squishy" through the day.

I managed to complete on 56 today. *sigh* I need to do 98 tomorrow but the distances apart won't let me -- especially since I want to leave town by 4:00 EST. Oh well, I'll be back week after next.

I struggled and wrestled with my conscience over my job today. Day one in town, when I didn't know anything about where I was, I remember thinking, "I think I'm in the poorer section of town today; maybe tomorrow I'll hit a better area with newer homes." Day 2, I called the office telling them some agent was going to lose his job over the stuff I was finding. See example photo:

By day three (yesterday), I was saying things to Susan about how the town seemed "stuck" in the 50s, how there were no young people, few children, how the homes weren't too well kept -- like everyone had moved on or something had happened here. I made a comment about the large factory looking buildings I kept seeing. Today, I asked.

The Williamses were on their screened porch when I arrived to take photos. Mr. Williams is in a wheelchair and was on oxygen. He reported not feeling to well today so I talked with his wife. She was so pretty and very nice, wearing her apron. I estimated them to be in their 80s. I asked what the factories sitting up on the hill used to be. She told me that they were textile mills owned by J.P. Stevens. There were three mills, a dyeing plant and a sewing plant all situated in Great Falls during the 1940s-1980s. In 1981, the mills began closing to begin producing their products overseas. Here is a report from the New York Times dated June 2, 1981:

J.P. Stevens & Company said that it will close two South Carolina textile plants, in Jonesville and Great Falls, sometime this year, idling 425 workers. Depressed demand for polyester-cotton blends of apparel fabrics and for industrial fabrics was cited as the reason for the closings. Stevens said it was discussing with individual employees the options
of relocating to another plant or receiving severance pay in accordance with company policy.
Neither plant is unionized.

Mrs. Williams said that prior to the mills closing the town had a population of 5000, but now only had around 2000. The town has no fast food restaurants and, while quaint, appears old and tired -- like Mayberry would appear after 50 years of neglect and the loss of it's youth.

Here's one of the shots I took of town today. I'm going to try to get some of the mills tomorrow before I leave.

From what I can tell, two of the mills have been sold and one was recently demolished and some of the materials recycled. Apparently, there is a market for old brick in new homes, along with re-milling old lumber for use in newer homes. One of the mills caught fire back in June 2006 and the town was evacuated for a week as there was acid in the building that produced harmful gases.

Interestingly, as I write this, the news is on here and they are talking about an old, abandoned mill property in another city that is posing potential contamination hazards for that city and how they will have to do further testing.

Since that time, many have moved from here, but many of the older people who worked at the mills stayed (this was their homes after all) and found other job. Mrs. Williams indicates that she didn't work at the mills, but she worked the local bank. She said it was hard there as well because people had loans they could not pay and many lost their homes. Since then, it appears that the town has never really revitalized. Mill homes in the area are old and in poor repair.

Shortly after I left the Williams' home, I met Gertie. She was also sitting on her screened porch in a home she rents. She asked if I had a minute to come in to see something. It was raining and the end of the day, so I took the time. Gertie tells me she makes crafts and likes to show them off. She had a bed FULL of Barbies that she's made into the full bed pillows. She then decided to give me a gift -- it's a decorated toilet bowl cleaner. I'm not sure, exactly, what one does with it, but her thought was so kind that I am moved. She also gave me a flag pin she made from plastic and yarn. She says she made and given away over 2000 of them. It is now clipped on my lanyard with my name tag. Gertie makes stuff from all kinds of household things we would throw away: egg cartons, hairspray lids, bottle caps, plastic forks, baby food jars, golf balls and coffee liners. She is so creative. It was such a blessing to get to meet her. She tells me she sells some for a little money and others she just gives away. What a gift she has to make people feel special -- just like she did to me today.

This fan is made from lace and plastic forks.

So, the struggle? I feel as if I truly do my job and provide their insurance carrier with the condition their homes are really in, they will likely lose their coverage. And, yet, I am being paid to do a thorough job. I have never struggled with providing this information to carriers before, but I have never, ever worked in a community whose homes appear so neglected. It has been a unique experience, humbling, even -- a reminder of the many, many blessings I have. I am struggling with the fact that the information I provide will affect these people's lives. Many, most actually, of these insureds are elderly. I know how they will react and worry. But I also know that there is a personal a professional liability if I turn in a report that is not complete. Life is hard sometimes.

On the adoption front, I received a confirmation from the post office that our application for our new agency was received today. I then received an email from our current agency telling me what refund amount we could expect. The loss is too big. I am disappointed that an agency who professes to be a Christian agency whose goal is to find families for babies seems to be more in it for the money than for the establishment of families. We have made what we consider really reasonable concessions about what we feel we should have refunded. Considering we have spent two and a half years with them and have nothing to show for it except tears, a large loan balance and a homestudy, I'm not feeling quite as generous as I might would have a long time ago. They have not reciprocated, essentially thinking we would be willing to lose $6500. We are not -- especially since all we are walking away with is a homestudy. I think I will try what Beth Moore says works, jumping up and down in front of God, getting angry, telling Him how angry I am and then giving it to to Him. If you hear some yelling from East of you tonight, never fear, it will be me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very sad little town which makes your job very difficult! I said a prayer today for your agency situation. Whatever God does, it will be the right thing!