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Unemployed and homeless, woman urges senator to help

By Padmananda Rama, CNN
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Letters from '99'ers'
  • A woman urges others who have lost jobless benefits to write to Bernie Sanders
  • She's printing out the e-mails and hand-delivering them to Sanders' office in Vermont
  • Sanders is trying to block a tax cut deal between President Obama and Republicans

Washington (CNN) -- As Sen. Bernard Sanders leads a charge to stall a tax cut compromise on Capitol Hill, back in Vermont, one woman is leading her own campaign for the long-term unemployed -- one letter at a time.

"Dear Bernie Sanders, I feel as if I'm living in a nightmare from which I will never awaken ... Why have we been forgotten, forsaken and left for dead?"

Another letter to Sanders, a Vermont independent, reads, "I'm about to lose my home... We need help right now."

Unemployed and homeless, Alexandra Jarrin is asking 99ers -- those who have also lost their job and exhausted 99 weeks of federal and state benefits -- to write to Sanders to tell him their stories.

"I will hand deliver the letters every day until this is over," Jarrin wrote in an e-mail to 99ers earlier this week. "WhetherI have one letter or thousands of letters, I will take them to the local office of Bernie Sanders and show him and his staff that we are standing up and asking him to speak up for all of us."

For Jarrin, the campaign is personal. She lost her job in 2008. She lost her unemployment benefits in March. And now she is homeless and sleeping on her friend's couch.

"We just need jobs," said Jarrin. "And we need help until we get jobs."

Jarrin says she's applied for 3,000 jobs. The former client relations director is one of 1.5 million Americans who are expected to max out on their unemployment benefits this year.

Sanders has vowed to delay passage of the proposed tax cut deal between the White House and Congressional Republicans. While the proposal would extend benefits for 13 months for those currently receiving unemployment insurance, it does nothing for those who have already run out of benefits.

As Jarrin prepared to deliver the letters to Sanders' office in rural Vermont Friday, the senator in Washington spoke for more than eight hours on the floor of the Senate to stall passage of the bill.

"This recession was caused by the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street," said Sanders. "How can I get by on one house? I need five houses, 10 houses. I need three jet planes to take me all over the world."

Meanwhile, Jarrin read portions of the letters to CNN, "I look around me and see how many have been affected by this. I see it in my own family. Sisters and brother have lost homes."

"When I asked for these letters, I said, tell me your story. Tell me your friend's story. Tell me your family's story."

Jarrin is running her operation from a friend's kitchen table, receiving hundreds of e-mails and printing the letters with ink that's been purchased with money from friends.

"I heard about what the president and the Republicans came up with, basically, and I was just disgusted," Jarrin tells CNN. "I will make sure that anybody who sends ther letter... gets printed out and gets to the office. The more stories we get, the bigger the impact."

Friday afternoon Jarrin delivered more than 200 letters to a staffer at Sanders' Brattleboro office.

At the same time she was delivering the letters, Sanders was six hours into his speech.

"The immediate cause of this crisis is... it just gets me sick thinking about it, and that is what the crooks on Wall Street have done to the American people," said Sanders.

Jarrin tells CNN the number of letters she has received continues to grow.

"I'm not going to stop as long as they come in," said Jarrin. "I'm going to print them out and take them up there."

CNN's Doug Schantz contributed to this report.