Raising Friends’ Kids

—Alamance County, NC, aid recipient—

pwilsonI’ve been here for thirty years. And my daughter had a job and moved down here. And then, I met her dad [indicating young girl beside her]. And they had problems at home, so she asked could she stay with me; and she’s been with me for three years. And so, then my [biological] daughter got a job in High Point. I didn’t want to move her to High Point. Her family is around here, so you know, if I didn’t get any housing, I thought it didn’t … we would have had to move; because I don’t work. I’m trying to get disability because I messed up my back, and now it has … and it went down my leg, you know. I fell and landed on a pallet back at Sam’s Club [where she was working], and messed my back up. So, I’ve been trying to get disability, because I can’t…. They say I can work, but I’ve been asking them what can I do? You know? Because I have always worked.

Since I was about 16, or 15. I started working at McDonald’s. So I’ve been working, you know, and I worked like two and three  jobs at times, because I had two kids to raise by myself, so… And my girls, they went, you know, they was in pageants and Girls Scouts, and they’ve done everything. And see, now I can’t do that stuff like that for her, you know? And that makes me kind of, upset.

Her family doesn’t really help me. So, I’m on my own.

But that’s how we… that’s how I got here.

Engaging the Neighborhood Kids

I’m mainly down here with the older people, right, over here. But the kids are … I don’t know why, but they play right here (Laughs).

So, you know. We even had like a cooking class. They want to cook, too. You know, so we’ve done that. We’ve got one lady that bakes. So we were going to see if she would um, show them how to bake. We’ve even got—now this is a lady next door—and she’s deaf, and she,  she’s learning them how to do sign language. So they’re working on that. So she’s working on them. They go over and they’re so excited, they’d just be running over there to her, you know. And they say we’re doing more for our kids and stuff than anybody else is, you know. Really I am, but they… (laughs)

Well, see there’s no kind of park or nothing else for them to do. So I started thinking of different things to do to keep them occupied you know, instead of they’re out getting in trouble, out in the road, maybe getting hit by a car or something. That’s why I say, one week we do this, one week we do that, keep doing something different. Because they get bored if you keep doing the same thing.

And the thing about it, the kids got the idea. They’re the ones who say, “What if we just pick out something to do every week, and we do something different every week when we come over here?” And I said, “You know what? That’s kind of a good idea.” I said, “Well, just write down what you all want to do.” And so that’s how we started out doing  it.

Making Ends Meet…With Her Own Business

I’m not used to this [relying on government assistance]. I got really depressed, it’s trying. Because I still got to get my lights and my phone paid. The gas. I still got to try to scrape up stuff like that. But I’ll… I’ll figure something out. I make stuff and sell it. Figure out some kind of way to make some kind of money to pay my bills.

I started like a little business. I went to the class [BHA holds a series of entrepreneur classes]. Yeah, so I started up my little business here. I took pictures and everything of it. It went really good at first because it was wintertime. But you know, now…. Because I was making the scarves and the hats. I mean, I even made dresses.

Well, it was really going… like word of mouth. Like for Christmas.

But it’s hard. So I’m trying to think of…

That’s what my cousin, she crotchets, and she gave me the idea. She sent me a picture. I go by pictures; she goes by patterns. I can just look at something, and I can just figure out how to do it. And then my cousin, she goes by pattern. And so we was just trying to figure out this… her mother wanted a blanket, but she wants roses on it, and the other, like a cross. And she said, “Oh, we can do that.” She said, “I want to look it up.” And she looking it up, and she said … I said, “You took the lot of them.” So she sent me a picture but it didn’t come in. And she’s doing some things like sweaters, but she’s doing like little things, you know, holes and stuff like… so it’ll be like summery sweaters, and stuff.

So she was sending me pictures, so I can look at it and I can start doing that. I named it and everything, you know. It’s the Sanders Family Crafts. Because that’s my momma’s middle name, her maiden name. And me, my cousins, it’s two of us, three of us, that when we go home for our Thanksgiving, we give all the new ideas of stuff that we have done. So then we pass it around. 

Pat lives in public housing and receives disability. She is African-American, in her fifties, and was interviewed by Tom Mould and Kristen Bryar, May 17, 2013

This entry was posted in Aid Recipients, Health & Disability, Making ends meet, Place: Alamance County, Single Parenting, Stories, Truth 4: People want to work. Bookmark the permalink.

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