December 22, 2010

Hope for the Holidays

This holiday message comes from Patty Anne, a member of Bread for the City's Client Advisory Board. You can see Patty Anne fighting for her rights in this video from Empower DC.

It’s the holiday season and although again this year I don’t have a lot, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and my daughter Kerryn, who has been by my side through all the tough times. She’s the reason I’m here today.

I was in an abusive relationship, and I got out of it because I knew I was pregnant. I know some people will stick with a person and take what they can get. My husband had money, he had nice cars, but underneath he was abusive - I didn’t want that for my daughter. So I chose to walk away.

Even after all the troubles with my crazy landlords, having to be homeless for a little while, getting sick from mold in the places we were living, having to move from house to house, I don’t regret my decision. But sometimes it’s hard, knowing that Kerryn doesn’t have what other kids have, knowing she deserves better. I wish I were a millionaire so I could give her it all, but I have what I have, and I am trying to make it work.

Last year when we moved, I had no money to buy her gifts, and Kerryn had no Christmas. There was no tree, there were no lights. She came down the stairs and I know she was looking for something. I just said “Kerryn, I am so sorry,” and she said, “It's ok Mommy, it'll be better next year.” Even though things were that way, she never complained. Some kids would get mad. Instead, when I cry, Kerryn will hug and kiss me and tell me it’s alright.

Now here we are at Christmastime again, and I get just $118 a month in Food Stamps, even though Kerryn has food allergies and needs more expensive foods. I’m disabled and on a fixed income, so I’m not sure I can even get her the basics, let alone a special holiday meal. And even as I struggle to put food on the table, the City Council is cutting the budget for programs like Interim Disability Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Some people in my situation would give up. Because I have Kerryn, I find hope when so many people are trying to take our hope away. She is on the Principal’s Honor Roll, and she was just voted Vice President of the student government. I am so proud of her, and I want so much to be a mother she can be proud of. I want to take care of her the way I know she deserves. She gives me joy and peace, and the strength to fight for my rights and make sure my voice is heard.

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