Today’s guest post is from our newly minted super hero – Ms. Angie in San Diego. Angie is a senior at UCSD and a single mother to a little girl. After years of hardship, and super-human determination, a college degree is finally in sight for her. What keeps her up at night is not celebrating her collegiate accomplishments, but her own worries of whether or not her family will be homeless before she is able to graduate. As reported in our previous post, our state is in danger of completely losing our safety net programs, including CalWORKS and Healthy Families. Read Angie’s story to learn how these program cuts will directly effect her family and countless other “little stories” in our communities.
Thank you, Angie, for the honor of sharing your story with our readers. You are AMAZING.
Before I went back to school, I was working full time. I was working nights, for just above minimum wage. During the day I spent all of my time raising my daughter. Child care was not a financial possibility, and I can never repay my sister for watching my little girl during those long nights. Diapers were expensive, and those of us with young kids would fight over the marked down open packs of diapers. During those years I got further and further into debt, since my paycheck rarely covered basic needs. It was then that I decided to go back to school. I debated it for months, worrying about the financial impact, the emotional impact on my self esteem that I knew would suffer tremendously if I went on State Aid. Welfare. Welfare. We now call it “State Aid”, we call Food Stamps “EBT Cards”, but the ego and self-esteem destroyers remain the same. Spending hours in the offices, one line after another, waiting, waiting, waiting to be called to a window, a room. Paperwork in triplicate, documentation, documentation, fingerprinting, and all of the disdain that comes with it from the workers behind the glass, behind the partition, behind the door at the “house visits”, which are house inspections, looking into every drawer and pantry of your life.
I am currently almost done with school. I have worked part-time the entire time I was going to school, while also receiving Welfare. Even though there were many times I felt like quitting after having to take time off of either work or school to meet with a worker or fill out more paperwork, I hung in there. There were times when I thought, “This would be easier if I just quit school, got a regular job and stayed paycheck to paycheck forever. I can’t handle the constant negotiation and renegotiation to trying to figure out the right thing to say or do to make it with the Welfare office.”
But I held on, going on and off herbal and medical anti-depressants, ranting to an empty house and at the end of the month an empty fridge. I will have my BA at the end of the summer, and from that point on be able to forever take care of my family without any extra help. That is, if I can make it through these budget cuts. I dropped some of my classes over this last year because of cancer in my family. We lost two very loved and very much missed members of my family with in a year of each other. I would not wish cancer on my worst enemy. It was the most horrific thing I have ever been witness to, and to have to go through it all again so soon almost broke my spirit. I do not regret taking the time off since the precious time I spent with my Aunt and then her eldest daughter is something I could never replace. However, it has left me with no Financial Aid, and my hours at work are down to nothing.
If these budget cuts go through, my family will most likely be cut, since we have been on Welfare for a while now. Taking away CalWorks leaves us in dire straights. I cannot find a job that will work with the hours I need, and absolutely cannot afford childcare. We don’t receive a lot, only $286.00 a month in cash, but I have managed to make it stretch to keep us afloat. Without that money, we will be homeless. I do my best to make the Food Stamp money last as well, but fresh fruit and veggies are a beginning of the month luxury. It breaks my heart to hear my daughter proudly tell me that her friends were so nice to give her the extra food left over from their lunches. My guts wrench when she looks me in the eyes and says, “Pasta again mom? I don’t want to eat pasta again”, after the third or fourth time this week. The stress of the budget cuts keep me up at night, wondering if we will make it until the cuts go through. Wondering how we will survive if they actually do go through. We are borderline homeless now. Without that little bit of help…
I only need it for a few more months, but I know there are others that need more time. San Diego is a very expensive place to live, and most people have no extra money, let alone the money to move. These cuts mean real things to real people, and this truly is the last thing we need in this economy. So many of us are barely surviving, why do you want to send us families to the streets?
Dear Readers: Please take a moment to share your thoughts with Ms. Angie by posting a comment below.