Two weeks ago, I took a trip to what many people would consider to be: The American Nightmare, The Department of Public Social Services. If you are not familiar with what this place is, it is the government assistant office. It is where people of low income come to get help to support their families. Two weeks ago, I was one of those people.
I walked up the stairs and instantly saw two security guards at the entrance standing next to metal detectors ready to search my belongings. I knew this was never a place I would imagine myself to be. Here I am, a 20-year-old, Black, single mother at the aid office in a need for help. At that very moment, I became what I never wanted to be: another statistic.
People of color is all I saw when I took glimpse around who was in the building. There was a Latina young woman with three kids and a baby on the way sitting next to me. She couldn’t have been any older than twenty-five. I could see the exhaustion in her face. I could also see that she had possibly given up, but who was I to judge? We were all in there for the reason, to feed our children and get by.
On the outside looking in, you may find it out of the ordinary that I had to apply for government assistance. But the truth is, I recently moved out of my parents house, and although I work an above the minimum wage job, I still cannot afford to pay for rent, childcare, groceries, and all of my other expenses all on my own. The truth is, if my mother wasn’t kind hearted enough to stock my fridge up last week, I’d be hungry.
I’ve been taking the initiative to make a better life for my daughter and I. I recently enrolled in school at a local junior college in Long Beach and I plan on going to school full time while continuing to maintain my job at a credit union and take care of my daughter. It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it and I know everything will pay off in the end.
As of right now, I’m waiting on a letter from the aid office to inform me that I’ve been approved for food stamps. I’ve still been going to work every single day and doing what I can to provide for my daughter and I. Taking care of her is my number one priority. And as a close friend of mine once said, “The amount of money in my pocket will never determine my wealth, ever. It’s my faith that every little thing is gonna be alright that makes me a rich man.”