Struggles for a Livable Wage Job in Cleveland

Commentary By Marsha Rizzo

I am a vendor for The Grapevine working towards helping the homeless.

I was an honor roll student and I graduated in drafting computers (CAD). I was a certified welder, I went for a job and when I applied for the job I showed my credentials, and they told me I was over-qualified plus they asked me my age and I told them I was 43. They told me that they had never hired anybody as old as I was at the time. So age discrimination is out there and it is hard to prove. When they told me I was over-qualified it wasn’t the idea of being over-qualified, it was being over-aged. This over-aged woman could have benefited the company.

I take pride in the work I do but they didn’t think I could benefit their company. It was the heartless people who worried about how old I was and not what I could do for the company. I have a heart too and it beats the same way. I have compassion but compassion is love and justice. If companies could take into consideration compassion and justice and not worry about how old we are and our housing situation then we would be able to have jobs and there wouldn’t be any homeless people. We are not asking for a handout, we are asking for jobs and to be treated fairly. When we stand on a corner and sell The Homeless Grapevine we are doing a job just like people who sell The Plain Dealer. So when we sell the paper called The Homeless Grapevine we are selling the truth of what agencies, companies and our community are doing to the people. We are doing our job because we are concerned. We have people telling us to get a real job (easier said than done). I have skills and I was an honor roll graduate, but I still sit here in poverty struggling for existence day by day, minute by minute, second by second. We don’t need charity; we need jobs in our city.


Editor’s Note: Marsha has quickly become one of the top vendors in her first month selling the paper. She was able to graduate from her probationary status within two weeks.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Issue 35, June 1999, Cleveland, Ohio