The questions I am about to ask might make you angry, embarrassed or unhappy. Bear with me, and keep reading anyway. I’ll tell you a story along the way.
Are you using a SNAP card for groceries? Do you feel uncomfortable using the card? If you answered yes, that’s just your pride kicking in. That’s a good thing. Do you get a WIC check for groceries to feed your child(ren)? Do you really need SNAP and WIC? If you do, don’t be embarrassed! Swallow your pride, and use those things as stepping stones to something better. If you are disabled or otherwise unable to work, take whatever help you need. You’re welcome to it. Now for the story I promised.
There once was a girl in her early twenties with a young daughter. She survived on WIC and ADC checks (Aid for Dependent Children) because her ex refused to pay child support. She was mortified using food stamps (in the day before the credit card look) and cashing her checks. She lived in HUD (Section 8) housing because it was the only way short of moving back in with her parents. This girl wanted more out of life that just mere survival. She also didn’t want her daughter to think it was fine to receive that help. This young lady was able to work and had dreams. She also had a useless boyfriend who wanted to keep her on his level—the lower level.
She finally made a decision that changed her life. She was going to college. She filled out all the financial aid papers, went for basic tests at the local community college and hoped for the best. Math was her worst subject, but she passed all the placement tests and was able to go right into regular classes. It was a happy day when she got her acceptance letter. She told her (abusive, controlling) boyfriend about her decision. He said he’d have to leave if she got educated because he’d seen it happen to his friends. Her boyfriend’s friends made fun of her for wanting more. They didn’t understand why she couldn’t be happy drinking beer with them every weekend. She couldn’t understand how they thought that was “the good life.” Suffice it to say, she told the boyfriend if he was leaving, they’d have to break the news to her daughter. She was saddened when he decided to stay in spite of her college endeavor. She had had enough of him anyway. All he did was drag her down. She knew in her heart she didn’t belong there. This girl knew something many people forget—low income does not equal low intelligence.
The first semester of college began. While she was in class, her daughter had a slot in the college day care. Who paid for this? Social service programs and financial aid. Was Momma embarrassed? No way! She had new confidence in herself, and her goal was to get a degree and support herself and her daughter. Throughout the two years at the community college, she was frequently on the Dean’s List. She even got involved in the Student Government Association and worked her way to the presidency! On graduation day, her daughter watched Momma give a speech and walk across the stage for her diploma. By this time, she was a single, much happier woman! No more unprovoked beatings, no more beer in her home, no more losers whispering in her ear destroying her confidence. She had been reborn!
Two years later, she graduated from a four-year university with her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and a minor in Intercultural Studies. After a painstaking job search, she was offered a teaching job in North Carolina. It took a couple months to find that job, but her strategy was pretty good—she sent letters and resumes to every county in Virginia and parts of North Carolina. She would not be denied! The move to Charlotte, North Carolina, was a major step in building more confidence. She flourished in the “big city.”
On a visit back to Virginia, she ran into her former HUD director. Imagine this girl’s surprise and pride when she was told, “We consider you our biggest success story.” This same woman will graduate with her Master’s in Spanish from the University of Nebraska—Kearney this summer.
I just want you to know if I can do it, so can YOU! The first step is to fill out the FAFSA online. That is the financial aid form that determines what kind of aid you are eligible for when you enroll in college. If you want more out of life, don’t wait! Go get it!