Today I met ALICE. No that wasn’t her name, but rather her situation. The acronym is from a United Way study which describes these hard-working people as Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.
Sitting across from this well dressed, very poised African American woman I was struck by her story. She told me she had successfully raised two children and that she was currently receiving childcare subsidy for the youngest, who’s unusual name meant gift. She went on to tell me how grateful she was for the program, as she was a single mother and making ends meet was virtually impossible without the help from Norwescap. As she told me her story, I noticed her eyes welling with tears.
This woman seemed to do everything right. She was educated, she had a job, and now she was offered another opportunity as a grant writer for a local hospital. Let me be clear, this was not a job “instead of” her current one, but “in addition to”. She was distraught because she was afraid that with the additional position, that she would now be over the income threshold. Without the subsidy, she would be in a virtual whirlpool of poverty. Being able to place her daughter in a quality childcare not only offered her piece of mind while she worked, but also allowed her to work more hours in order to afford a better place to live. Without the subsidy she would pay most, if not all the monies she earned at this second job just for childcare.
Unfortunately, she was correct. The additional position would put her over the threshold. Only by about a couple thousand dollars per year, but still over. In consulting with my Team members, I confirmed what I hoped I could offer her, a 12-Month Phase Out Opportunity! I couldn’t wait to offer her the good news, and when I was unable to reach her via phone, I emailed her simply stating that I had good news and to call me. When she returned my call the next day, I could hear the cautious excitement in her voice. After telling her about the opportunity there was silence on the other end of the phone. Craning to listen carefully, I could hear her rustling and then I realized that she was trying to regain her composure. When she was again able to speak, she thanked me for my help and told me that I had no idea what this meant for her family. It was in that moment that I realized how much I love where I work.
To know that such a simple thing like childcare subsidy can change the lives and futures of your fellow man is truly humbling. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941 stated as goals of U.S. policy the four freedoms; freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. One could say that it’s stretching it a bit to make the correlation with this situation and that policy, but I know a woman who would vehemently disagree.
I remain grateful and humbled and hopeful,