‘I was forced to adjust to working just part time. Now I’m earning between $15,000 and $17,000 per year and we’re falling behind.’
I’m a single mother of three, ages 6, 8, and 9. I attended a year of college, studying criminal defense, but I dropped out of school when I had my first child and worked restaurant jobs, did call center work and worked as an assistant manager for an apartment complex to make ends meet.
Now I work for a bank as a customer service representative. I was working full-time, earning between $29,000 and $32,000 a year. Then, my daughter came down with a virus that required a visit to the emergency room. The next day, I came down with the same sickness and also had to go to the emergency room. My kids come first, so I took several days off for us all to get better.
I had been on unpaid, job-protected leave before, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, to take care of my son, who has a mental illness. But this didn’t cover myself or my daughter, so I couldn’t use it when I needed to take time off to recover from this virus.
At the same time, my employer was laying off workers and opening more branches overseas. I was forced to adjust to working just part-time. Now I’m earning between $15,000 and $17,000 per year and we’re falling behind. I’m devastated by this loss of income and it’s having big impacts on my family. It’s unjust that companies as large as Suntrust would not offer more to their employees in situations like these. When companies only care about making money, workers like me with young families pay the price.
I’ve always lived paycheck-to-paycheck, but, before these cuts, I knew what was coming in and knew how to make ends meet. Now, we’ve had to make cutbacks. We downsized our Internet package, we turned off the cable, we adjusted our water bill, and rely on a family member to cover our power bill. We canceled our YMCA membership, which was really painful, because it was such a positive space for my kids to play and for me to exercise. I can’t afford to give my kids the things they want, and they don’t understand that I just don’t have the money. Luckily my daughters got a scholarship to continue dance classes at our church.
When my hours got cut back, I called places that help families in need, but either all of the appointments were filled or there was no funding. Now we’re behind on our power bills, water bills, and rent, and I don’t know where that money will be coming from.
I know there are people in worse situations than me and, as long as my kids have a roof over their head, food in their bellies, and light and power in the house — and I know I’m doing everything that I can — we’re going to be OK.