Offers pour in for fired Walmart employee

05/26/2010 7:03 AM

05/26/2010 7:03 AM

What a difference a day makes. Monday, Heather Ravenstein filed for unemployment after losing her job as a customer service manager at the Walmart on West Kellogg.

She was fired because she violated company policy by confronting a shoplifter who was attempting to steal a computer.

Tuesday, the single mother received an outpouring of support as more people learned of her situation through The Eagle and other news outlets.

"My phone's been going off the hook," Ravenstein says.

Because mostly friends and former co-workers have her number, others have been trying to track her down by calling her former in-laws and by contacting The Eagle.

So far, there are two Wichita businesses that are interested in interviewing her for possible jobs.

Ravenstein's landlord has given her one month's free rent.

Some people are offering money, including one politician (who prefers to remain anonymous) who would like to buy her a grocery card and a gas card — not from Walmart or Sam's Club .

People from across the state are supporting Ravenstein with comments like, "I've never heard of anything so un-American."

"They're getting a lot of heat from this," Ravenstein says of Wal-Mart.

And Ravenstein is feeling a lot more confident than she did on Monday.

"I've got a lot of people backing me up, so I'm OK."

Poetic expansion

It seems like anytime in the past year would be a hard time to debut a business, but only seven months after opening, Poetic Justice Cafe is expanding.

Husband-and-wife owners Ahmin Mouchilison and Victoria Palacios-Mouchilison opened their poetry-themed cafe near Central and Webb in October, but it holds only about 25 people.

Wichita has a lot more poets and poetry lovers than that, Palacios-Mouchilison says.

"They kind of seemed like they were hiding for a while," she says of the time before the cafe opened.

Now Poetic Justice is moving to 300 S. Greenwich, near Kellogg.

The cafe will close after business May 31 and reopen in the new space around July 1.

"It's a good size," Palacios-Mouchilison says of the space, which currently is vacant.

The new cafe will seat about 80 and still offer a variety of coffee, baked goods and lunch items.

There is spoken-word poetry every Friday night for "poets, storytellers — just anyone that really wants to express themselves," Palacios-Mouchilison says.

There also are specially designated nights for things like games and crafts.

Palacios-Mouchilison says she's planning a lot of events for the new space this summer, including bringing in national poets to speak.

She credits poetry fans for helping her new business succeed.

"It's a lot of word of mouth."

Schneider auction

Last summer, several potential buyers negotiated for the former Schneider Medical Clinic building in Haysville.

The space had a variety of suitors, including potential medical or office users and restaurateurs, but a deal didn't happen.

So today, the building is going up for auction at 4:30 p.m.

Stephen and Linda Schneider are on trial in federal court. They are charged with health care fraud, money laundering and unlawfully prescribing controlled substances.

The Schneiders had a Southwestern-style clinic building at 7030 S. Broadway, which is where the auction will take place.

When it went on the market after the U.S. Marshals Service seized the property, it was listed for $2.6 million.

The 8,248-square-foot building is on two acres and has 14 exam rooms, four offices, two reception areas and a partial basement.

You don't say

"It doesn't stand for Arkansas Shakespeare Festival ."

AOPA Air Safety Foundation president Bruce Landsberg , speaking to the Wichita Aero Club Tuesday, on what ASF (Air Safety Foundation) stands for

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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