by Monica Brinson
I managed approximately 90 people on the Hurricane Sandy Project in 2013 as an Eligibility Analyst Supervisor, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. This experience changed my life and opened my eyes to the depth of widespread injustice in our beautiful State of New Jersey. On one hand, I was in contact with wonderful citizens, down on their luck, and on the other, I saw firsthand how political power and personal gain was more important than providing timely hurricane relief.
During the course of my Supervisor role, l fought for my team’s rights, such as having basic tools to do our job, as we worked in a hostile environment with the agency Quadel they wasted our tax dollars holding up the process to get hurricane Sandy victims their money; it was at that time when we were told to focus first on Ocean County because it was an election year for the Governor. I was outraged by this, as eight other counties were hit hard as well and I didn’t understand why we couldn’t serve everyone at once since we had a full staff. We spent hours on that job to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy as they purposely held up documents that we needed to process so that our neighbors could start rebuilding. People’s vulnerable lives became political tools and this disgusted me.
I worked out of a building in Newark where the Governor’s office was a couple of floors below me. The State Commissioner from the Department of Community Affairs responsible for overseeing the hurricane Sandy project quietly left and got a new job away from the corrupt administration.
To balance my helplessness against those in power, I became a mentor to many during the period. Most of my team was made up of unemployed, underemployed (like myself, at the time I worked part-time at Target in the HR dept.) hard working, good people. I empowered my team by teaching them interviewing skills and how to engage in a corporate environment because that would be how we could fight back, by bettering ourselves first. For example, I helped a single mom named Shaya from Newark. She worked for me – a single mom who thrusts for more out of life for her child and for herself – she is one, of the many reasons why I will fight for New Jersey because there are many Shaya’s in our state.
I will no longer be standing on the sidelines for New Jersey. I will fight hard, front and center. I vowed to my team that what we experienced would never happen again. I still talk to my team, comprised of many single mothers and people from all walks of life, who stopped everything, just to help their neighbors rebuild. People who didn’t have the opportunities that I had, people who watched their friends get shot in the streets of Newark, people whose voice I can hear when no one else responds to their cry.
I invite anyone who needs a compassionate leader to champion their cause, to contact me so that we can fix what is broken.
Monica Brinson aborted her campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in April, citing unspecified dangers she encountered while developing her campaign.
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