Today [January 7] I visited the Newton Advocacy Group Society to meet with single mothers living in poverty.
The Newton Advocacy Group Society is a nonprofit organization which assists both homeless people and those living in poverty. They run a special program to empower single moms to live positive and productive lives.
I met with a number of single mothers and their children at Newton. Here are a few of the many stories shared that day which challenge the myth that people on welfare don’t want to work.
Frances, a mother of three young children, worked full time at grocery store for 16 years at a decent hourly wage. But her hours were suddenly cut and she found herself needing to apply for welfare to provide for her family.
Danielle, also a mother of three, worked for about 10 years before she had her children. After her first child was born, she stopped working to be a stay at home mom while her husband worked. Danielle fell victim to domestic abuse and ended up on welfare. Sadly, I heard many stories like Danielle’s of women living in poverty after surviving domestic violence.
Allison, a mother of two, was a receptionist for over three years at a car dealership before she was in a car accident. Allison told me how she had to go on medical leave from her job and when she returned, she was told she had been replaced. Despite the massive setback, Allison went on to put out countless resumes which got her a few interviews but no job.
Here are some of the day to day challenges that these women shared with me:
“It is tough to be a parent on welfare as your children feel ashamed when they are asked by other children, what does your mother do for a living?”
“Poverty can make you angry.”
“We are forced to work under the table because there are no earnings exemptions. Any amount made is deducted from the welfare cheque dollar for dollar.”
“Child support is clawed back dollar for dollar.”
“It is hard to find money for clothing and we are having to take money out of our food budget to buy clothes.”
The Newton Advocacy Group Society program is making a difference for these women and they are working hard to move forward with their lives.
I would like to thank David Young, Executive Director for Sources (Sources has merged with the Newton Advocacy Group Society) and Susan Keeping for arranging my visit today. Susan is the founder of the Newton Advocacy Group Society and a strong women’s advocate.