I may be the happiest person to be middle-class that you ever meet.
When I started this blog I was a red-hot mess. I was a full-time returning college student. I was unmarried. I had three children. I was traumatized from my relationship with my daughters’ abusive alcoholic father. It seemed like I was a stereotype statistic waiting to happen, but I knew I would break out. I saw The System for what it was. It wasn’t an occupation or a life goal, but it is an opportunity. The trail out of my Low Income Forest looks like this:
2007- I left the bottom of the barrel in Lansing and moved in with a friend in Pinckney.
I applied for daycare assistance and got a job. The kids and I still utilized food and medical assistance.
2008- I got onto Section 8 rental assistance, and found us a cute house.
2009- Second shift daycare became impossible and I lost my job.
2010- Worked and finished my Associated degree. Still no work.
2011- I went back to the welfare office, applied for cash assistance, and got sent to Michigan Works.
From there, I went to a program that paid me food and cash benefits while I went to vocational school. Section 8 paid for rent.
Vocational school didn’t produce work, so I finished my degree and continued to receive full assistance while in school.
2012- Car died, no more school. No more cash assistance.
2013- Got married. No more food assistance. Rent increases.
2014- Get hired and fired from 3 separate jobs.
2015- Landlord evicted all Section 8 residents. Family is left homeless.
By the time we find a house, it wasn’t approved, and I lost my rental assistance.
2016- I still can’t find work. Sean is drastically underemployed. Ambrose is killed.
By end of year, I start bartending. I get off head-meds. Sean becomes GM at Jet’s Pizza in Hartland.
2017- We no longer qualify for food assistance.
2018- Sean gets a significant raise because he works so hard.
Family no longer qualifies for Medicaid and we are not on low-income assistance of any kind.
We are officially middle-class!
So there. Now, I’m in an adorable little house across the street from a lake. I work as a kick-ass bartender. I write. I volunteer all the time. My children are involved in healthy activities. My husband takes great pride in his role as a strong provider for our family.
The Social Welfare system saved my family. Medical conditions we could have died from, Medicaid kept us alive. During the times I was struggling to keep my kids afloat, EBT made sure they could eat. I was able to raise my kids in a clean, safe home in a family neighborhood because of Section 8. Cash assistance kept water and heat on, and toilet paper on the roll. I made sure the kids had what they needed so they could live as healthy of a life as I could provide. Poverty puts them at the top of the list for every risk factor. There were a lot of resources available to keep the kids safe, so I utilized them all until I could take over and do it myself.
Friends and family cannot be overappreciated in the story. Their contributions and support were at times crucial. The poverty struggle is very real. I worked every day in every way to get us out of it.
This is what the Social Welfare Program was intended to do. There should be a safety net for people. I was on Welfare because I was desperate, not because I was lazy. Accidents happen. Mistakes get made. Capitalist Economies are only as successful as its lowest ranking citizens. I can’t change the world. I did however change my world, and the world of my family.
Thank you, taxpayers. (Oh, yeah. That’s us now, too!) I’m paying you back with me and my husbands income tax dollars, and with the moral, respectable children I am raising to be valuable contributions to society. You’re welcome.