|A black and white head shot photo of Mx. Vera Didenko.|
Born Vera Ann Pletin in 1981, they were assigned female at birth; the second and final child to an American-born mother married to an American-naturalized father. In 1984, Vera was diagnosed with what was considered "mild autism." In that year, they were sent to preschool at a facility that taught "severe behaviorally handicapped children". After three years of preschool, Vera and their family moved out of the city of Cleveland, Ohio, to Lakewood, an inner-ring suburb just west of the city. In 1998, Vera graduated from Lakewood High School with a membership to the National Honor Society, overcoming social barriers from starting school in special education for both several behavioral handicap and specialized learning disability, to being fully integrated into mainstream education.
After one year of studies at Cuyahoga Community College in 1999, Vera decided to pursue a different path; paid volunteering. They signed up with Americorps City Year in 2000, and served with them until June 2001. Shortly thereafter, Vera applied for, and was accepted to, the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, where they studied basic broadcast operations in both radio and television. Prior to graduation in 2002, Vera landed their first paying radio job with Lakewood's Nationality Broadcasting Network, which included the satellite home to WKTX-AM/830 (based in Cortland, Ohio) and NBN-TV, providing visual content presented primarily in the Hungarian language to the SCOLA cable network. Also in 2002, Vera was employed by (the now defunct WWMK-AM/1260) Radio Disney Cleveland as a promotions assistant. In 2004, Vera's biggest break into the radio industry came when they were selected to work for Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Company as a sales secretary for WEOL-AM/930 and a continuity assistant for both WEOL-AM and (at the time) WNWV-FM/107.3.
In 2008, Vera's career in radio came to an abrupt end, when they decided to move to Texas and secure employment within that state. A short time later, Vera went back to Lakewood, with no job and no money. Later that year, after submitting an application on a whim, Vera would be selected out of hundreds of applicants to work for Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), working in their Accounts Payable department until near the end of 2013. During their tenure, Vera had some growths, both personally and professionally; they legally changed their name to Vera Anna Didenko in 2011, and led a team for the first time in 2012, as part of a site wide innovation fair. Vera was also a co-facilitator for the organization's annual customer service refresher course in 2012.
In late 2013, Vera had a massive mental breakdown, where they contemplated ending their life. A few days after the breakdown, Vera was diagnosed with types 1 and 2 of posttraumatic stress disorder, stemming from a broken, abusive, and neglectful childhood as well as several short-lived violent encounters from classmates, co-workers, lovers, and members of their own family. A month after their diagnosis, Vera left DFAS, completely broken both financially and mentally.
A few days after Vera left their last paying job, they discovered something that they would not have considered otherwise because it was being offered as a free event; the opportunity to study Judaism. In early 2014, Vera began studying Judaism, both reading from their religious text as well as learning basics of the Hebrew language. Something happened during their studies, however, that would change Vera's life forever: they began having flashbacks of abuse they had endured years ago. Emboldened by Judaism's belief in strong social justice, Vera began confronting their then second-fiancé by breaking up, and then confronting their parents for not listening to them. Vera completed their Judaism conversion studies by becoming a Jew in mid 2015.
Vera now lives back in the city of Cleveland, near the border of the east side inner-ring suburb of Shaker Heights. Vera continues to estrange themself from their parents and their sibling, with Vera not having seen or spoken to their parents since late 2014. Vera also has a no-contact order in place against their (second) ex-fiancé, which is valid until early 2018. They attend, and is a member of, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, in nearby Beachwood where they are also a member of Chevrei Tikva Chavurah, the area's oldest and most prominent LGBTQ+ Jewish mini-congregation. In Vera's spare time, when not agonizing over this blog, they like riding on public transit, studying the Torah at their temple's library, pledging allegiance daily to the Rolling Stones, and hanging out with their family, friends, fans, and followers.
To find out more, just read the damn blog.