Kathy is a single mom. She and her 6-year-old son, Eddie, live in a small older home near a lake. Eddie is the light of Kathy’s life, and she does everything she can to provide for him. She works multiple jobs, often pulling double shifts and all-nighters to the point of exhaustion. When the weather is favorable, she does part-time work like painting, cleaning, and yard cleanup on the weekends. They have a small garden, and Kathy grows vegetables to try and supplement their diet with nutritious food.
Kathy’s love for her child is what keeps her going when times are tough. She says of their struggles, “It will bring that determination in you that you didn't know was there. It will bring out a strength you didn't know you had. A fierce lioness side.” But despite her hard work, Kathy often faces impossible choices. She told us, “I can't let the power bill go and my lights be shut off. I can't let the mortgage get behind. I can't afford all the school supplies he's going to need. So without help, it is just too much.”
Kathy told us that they do not qualify for food stamps, and often rely on a local food pantry to bridge the gap. They have completely run out of food before, and Kathy has gone to bed hungry so that Eddie can eat. Affording school supplies isn’t always possible, either. Kathy has homeschooled Eddie in the past to save him the shame of attending school without pencils, paper, and a backpack. “You don't want your child to go to school and lack the things that they need. It's embarrassing to them.“
Someday, Kathy hopes to relocate to a larger city where she believes she will have better opportunities for a good job and income. She wants to be able to give her son everything that she never had. One thing she dreams of is being able to give Eddie a real Christmas – something they’ve never been able to afford. “When you’re not financially able to give your kid that Christmas morning, that they want it so bad, it tears you apart. Because you want to give them everything that they want and deserve.”
Kathy is thankful for the help she receives from community partners and organizations. Without that support, Kathy says, she would have to work constantly and would never see her child. “It gives me time to spend with my son. And it gives us a brighter tomorrow.”
While things are still challenging for their family, Kathy says that their lives are picking up. She wants Eddie to grow up knowing that his circumstances don’t limit or define him as a person. She hopes that he will be strong willed and ambitious, and that his natural loving tendencies will stay with him through his adult life. “He has a loving heart, a caring heart, a sharing heart. I just hope that the world doesn't tear him apart. I hope for a good future for him.”