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Fighting #Depression #22 – The story of 2017 | April 18, 2017

This isn’t really a depression post, at least not overtly.

This is the story that more than a couple have voiced wonder at.  And, for many of you, this will be all new.

Story time!

For most of the past 12+ years, I’d been employed at The West Volusia Humane Society, a no-kill 501(c)3 non-profit animal shelter in DeLand, FL.  I started in November 2003, as a volunteer, attedning off-site adoption events at PetSmart on Sundays.  The girl I was dating, Heather, was a volunteer and it was through her that I got involved.

After getting in trouble for driving on a suspended license,  I plead out, got 18 months probation with 50 hours of community service.  I decided to perform those hours at the shelter proper.

I impressed the executive director of the shelter so much, she hired me on.  I started part time, and about a year later, was a full time employee.  I even got in MORE trouble, trying to get to work on Sunday (my usual ride wasn’t able to help out and there’s no bus service on Sundays, so I took my chances driving, and that didn’t work out so well), ended up on stricter probation terms.

I became involved with many aspects of the shelter, not just cleaning and taking care of the animals and answering the phone and greeting people and the like.  I got involved with the adoption team.  I became involved in the office duties.  I streamlined and fine-tuned a lot of things, creating a filing system that wasn’t stuck in the 1980s.

Things continued apace, until May of 2010.  Due to the recession, money donations were drastically down and the shelter was no longer able to pay us our full paychecks.  (Hell, they still owe me money from that.)

So, I talked to my executive director and we agreed it would be best for the shelter to lay me off, so I could collect unemployment and pay some bills.  Y’know, like mortgage.  Keeping the house, that’s important.

I volunteered several days a week at the shelter through the end of August 2010, but then needed to stop, as I was busy making money to pay bills.  Between selling things on eBay and Amazon and doing some independent contractor work and such, I was able to make due, but couldn’t afford to give up a couple days a week not making money, to ride the bus out to the shelter, volunteer, and ride back.  (Even if I went for a couple hours, we’re still taking a good 5-6 hours I was gone including bus rides.)

In April 2011, I got a car (my mother’s; she passed away in December 2010 and my brother drove it down from Maine when the family came down to bury her next to our father.)  I started volunteering at the shelter on Sundays.

June 2011, I was hired back to the shelter part time.  Originally two days a week, but I talked to the executive director, asking her for one more day a week, so I could stop wasting time trying to still collect unemployment (at the time, you had to call in any hours you worked during the week, so they could subtract your earnings from the unemployment payout.  Calling in pretty much took an entire day, no hyperbole.)

So, I worked and kept selling things and making money in whatever way I could find.  By the end of 2011, I was getting four days a week, and by mid 2012, I was full time again.  Way more involved with things this time; having a car, I could run errands for the shelter, taking animals to the vet, performing home visits as part of the adoption process when needed, representing the shelter at off-site events and more.

For the last several years, I’d been the ENTIRETY OF THE ADOPTION TEAM.  The shelter only had two employess for a while, and then in 2015, a third.  But I was still doing all the adoption work – processing paperwork, doing home visits, taking animals for vet checks, whatever.  All me.  (The director was becoming less involved on a regular basis due to her dealing with health issues.  I’d do all the work and then call her and get final approval.  She pretty much went with my feelings, if I thought it was good, they got adopted, if not, they didn’t.)

Additionally, whenever there was extra work, I was the one.  Whenever there was a storm (and this goes back to the first stretch at the shelter, even when I didn’t have a car), and someone needed to spend the night at the shelter, it was me.  October 2016, during Hurricane Matthew, I was the one there to make sure everything was ok, that the shelter and animals were safe.

In 2015, I asked for a raise over my coworkers, as I had WAY more responsibilities.  I got a $0.50/hr raise, which I was grateful for.  I know I was worth more than that, but hey, take what you can get.

Late last year, the executive director decided to reitre.  Effective Jan 1, 2017, we had a new Facility Manager.  Everyone got a $0.25/hr raise (popping me up to a grand $9.05/hr.)

Things were changing, and not always in ways that I agreed with, but I wasn’t a problem.  I’d enter in a discourse with the new manager, and we’d talk things, and things were good.

Then, January 10th, during my ‘weekend’, I got a phone call from my manager.  He was calling me “off the record”, as he wasn’t supposed to be letting me know (but felt it was the right thing to do, instead of letting me come in to work the next day to find out that way), but the Board of Directors decided to terminate my employment.  I asked him why, and he said he didn’t know, and I believe him.  He told me not to come in for work, but to come in on Thursday, so I could pick up my final paycheck and severance check, and collect any items of mine at the shelter.  (It wasn’t that I wasn’t welcome, an as far I know and have heard, I am still welcome there, just not as an employee… but he felt it would avoid any discomfort, me coming in to collect things during a work day.)

He said there would be a letter from the Board of Directors regarding my termination.

There was.  It didn’t answer any fucking questions.

Wanna see it?

termination letter text

Oh, yeah, almost forgot.  When he called me, he said that I would be paid through Jan 4th, the end of the previous work week.  I mentioned that I’d also worked Jan 6-8th and needed to be compensated for that.  (So the letter above, dated Jan 9th, was revised after the fact to address those days.)

So, for everyone wondering WHY I got fired, what the story was… I don’t know.  I have a couple speculations, but they just don’t make much sense, and I’m not going to divulge them here.

As you can surmise (and some of you have seen, either through my Fighting Depression series, or knowing me on social media), this has hit me hard.  I’ve been fighting depression for years, if not most of my life, but this event has just really gutted me.

Working at the shelter, working with the animals gave me a sense of purpose that I’ve never had anywhere else.  Certainly not at any job.  I’ve had jobs I’ve really enjoyed (Asst Manager at a Waldenbooks in the 1990s, for one), but nothing like this.  Caring for the animals, helping them, rehabilitating those that needed it, helping them find new homes.  It was the best.

(I’m fully aware that I shouldn’t have expected better, that no job is obligated to treat you any better, but still… when someone busts their ass and sweats, cries and bleeds for you, you don’t fuck them over like this.)

Thursday, Jan 12th, after picking up my checks/possessions and coming home, I took this pic, posted it on social media with a caption to the effect of “This is what heartbreak looks like.”

011217 hearbreakAnd, yes, that’s a little on the melodramatic side, but it’s true.  These were the things I had at the shelter, that I kept there on an ongoing basis.  Clockwise, from upper left: laundry basket and laundry soap (I didn’t have my own washer/dryer but we were allowed to use the shelter’s for personal laundry, as long as shelter laundry was caught up), blue bag with Keurig coffee maker for cold mornings and staying overnights, rubber boots for cleaning, gym bag with change of clothes (shirts/socks/underwear for sweaty days, spare clothing for overnights/as needed), box with cooking implements (frying pan, oil, utensils, dishware) for meals/eating.

So, anyhow, I’ve gone on (and on and on) enough here.  Probably lost most of the readers by now.  Those who stuck it out, I appreciate it, I just wanted to lay out, to the best of my ability, why I’m so gutted this year.

Tonight, I’ll be posting a list of dvds/blu rays I’m looking to sell for money to help catch up on some bills.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] I detailed in my post earlier today, I’m unemployed through no doing of my own.  I’ve been coasting on money I had saved […]

    Pingback by Help me help myself – Online Yard Sale #1 | This is really the best blog ever. — April 18, 2017 @ 9:14 pm

  2. […] So, as anyone following knows, the biggest thing that’s defined this year is my being fired from the non-profit no-kill animal shelter that I bled, sweated and shed tears over for the past twelve-plus years.  (I won’t go into the long, detailed story again, but for those who are newer and/or don’t know the story of me and the shelter, I wrote about it in detail two months ago.) […]

    Pingback by Fighting Depression #30 – Hey, I started my new job… | This is really the best blog ever. — June 19, 2017 @ 11:19 pm


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