Writers note: I met Katie when I attended West Virginia Northern Community College. We were students at the same time and developed a friendship. Katie is an amazing and thoughtful person and I was humbled by her story. This is Katie.
Can you describe your experience using Safety Net programs?
Growing up, I never really knew the struggles my parents went through. We had a one income family and it was a struggle raising three kids. We didn’t have any special things we just had enough to make ends meet.
I didn’t really notice or fully realize our lack of money until I got older. We always shopped at the clearance rack, we always got what we needed but not always what we wanted.
Making sure you have enough money to do things you enjoy is very difficult too. Going to a sports game or a movie, you think “once I but the tickets, will I have enough money to buy food?” We have to cut so many corners just to find enjoyment.
Public assistance is so important for people like my sister and my family. We have used WIC in the past and it was extremely helpful.
My family receives food stamps. My grandma, shes in her eighties and has lots of debt, with my grandfathers pension she pays her bills but she only gets about $20 a month in SNAP benefits which is simply note enough for her.
How has debt shaped your life?
I think I fell into the trap of “I’ll pay it off tomorrow.” It’s like you try not to worry about it especially when you are so busy, but it’s always there. While I was going through grief losing my mom, I felt like I could put my worries away and pay for things later. I learned the hard way that that’s not true. I have been working with my new creditor and that has helped me get of the hole.
I was given the Pell grant my first year at school and without it I would have probably needed to get more loans and rack up more debt which might have only perpetuated my situation. Thank goodness I was a able to get my degree without drowning in debt.
How do you find yourself climbing out of debt?
Getting a better job was really the key.
Working at Williams Lea, I am flabbergasted that I get holidays off and everything. It’s my first corporate job. I can see myself slowly getting out of the poverty I am in.
Ever since I have been at Williams Lea, the routine has helped me tremendously, my mental health has been improved as well. Because, I feel pride working at a place that aligns with my degree I am much happier than before.
Ultimately, I would like to go into cyber security. I think in the fall I will go for my bachelors degree. It seems like I will eventually have enough experience from Williams Lea to do that. I can see a future I didn’t think existed before.
What makes you optimistic?
Today I am excited to pay off my car soon if I budget well; realizing that my car will be mine really makes me hopeful. I hope things will be like a snowball and I can continue to move ahead.
I am starting to work on my health and other important things too. Part of it is knowing I have to wait and be patience for good things which can be difficult, but I know it will be worth it.
I am very blessed to live in the Ohio Valley where there are employment opportunities. I am grateful to have the access I do to resources and community, I think that is the real reason I am doing better.