Welfare one Woman’s Story

I know this is a deal blog. I also know that I push the envelop and encourage real conversations founded to understand others. I believe if you are not uncomfortable at times you are not learning. I decided to get a little uncomfortable this week and begin to challenge public and private opinions. I will offer mine in my column which will appear on lifetime.com on Thursday. This is a story from one of my fans who asked if I would post her story because she is sick of public perception.



It was 6 ½ to 7 years ago that my husband decided that he wanted to try drugs. I was 9 months pregnant and had no idea of the behavior that he was participating in. Within 2 weeks of our daughter being born, I became suspicious of his actions. Within 6 weeks of her birth, I found out that he had quit his job and had drained our bank accounts. I learned within a few days that he was injecting meth. Times became hard for me, when he left, and did not come back home, forcing me and our new born baby to be evicted from our home.
Since that time, I have been able to pick myself up from that situation, however it has not been easy and the road is still tedious. I am a single mom with two kids now, I work full time, I have a second part time job, and I go to school full time. I am doing everything possible that I know how to better my situation not only for me, but for my kids. Despite all of that, I am still reliant upon welfare to survive in this society.
I have worked at a middle school in the Extended Resource Room, with students with disabilities. Working full time as a State employee, my W2 for 2011 was just a little under $12,000. I have since then picked up a part time job to help stabilize my income more, this job provides me with an additional $120 a month. I also go to school online to obtain my education. I have just completed my Associates degree in Elementary Education, and am continuing on to my BA in Elementary Education.
One would think that it would be easier to get a job that pays more, so then I am not so reliant upon the government for assistance. As much as I would love to be able to get off welfare, this “simple solution” is just not as simple as it sounds. A major factor is that I have my kids 100% of the time, without the support of their father. Also, my daughter has mental health disabilities that are very time consuming. She has been kicked out of over 10 different daycares. She has eloped off the school campus, as well had her school put into lockdown. She is 7 years old. My daughter requires a very unique schedule and needs to be accommodated appropriately. In addition to this, in the state of Idaho, there are very limited services to help my daughter. She obtains 4 hours a week of service from an outside agency to help teach her how to cope.
A combination of these factors, make it nearly impossible to switch jobs and ultimately a different career. It is for all of these reasons that I am dependent upon the assistance of welfare. The welfare that I do receive is limited, but I am thankful for it all the same. I get $450.00 a month for food, and I also get 80% of my daycare bill paid for. It can be very hurtful and frustrating when people judge me for being on assistance. Welfare is not something that I enjoy, nor is it something that I wish to be on forever, however, it is something that has helped my family stay afloat during these hard economic times as I continue to make advances in bettering our situation and ultimately bettering our future.

Stacie Aspiazu-Johnson

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  1. says

    I applaud this woman’s story for working hard and wanting the best for her kids! I will be praying for her and wish her the best! There is nothing wrong for her getting help when she needs it!

  2. Tammy N says

    This is a “hand up” and not a “hand out” welfare case. This is what the system was designed to do… provide in the short term until folks can get back on their feet. Kudos to this woman for working so hard to provide a better life for her children. More folks should follow in her footsteps!

  3. Tawnee says

    And that is what welfare should be used for people who need the help but who are willing to work also. People like this lady are the ones I hope my tax money gose to help. To all those out there like her keep up the hard work and you will get to where you want to be and never let any one make you feel bad about needing a helping hand

  4. sandy says

    i hate to say this, but i have to disagree with you on the perception of people on welfare. i am glad this person got the help she needed. however, i have seen many 1st hand that have gotten welfare and were driving new expensive cars, buying lobster, steaks with their food stamps, the car even had a new sticker on it. just recently in nc, this woman won over a million dollars on the lottery, she was on welfare and food stamps, where did she get the extra money to buy the tickets, they are 3.00 plus (so it really comes to abt 10.00 per ticket), she had 2 houses, went to school, etc. and she hid the fact abt the money. then it came out, she said she still needed the welfare and food stamps b/c she had 2 sep families to support, 2 mortgages, etc. i think she should have been made to pay back the money. i lost my job many yrs ago, got fired for something i did not do, no health insurance, no family to help me out, no income, someone rear ended me and i could not work for a long time, still refused help, i had a mortgage, my car was paid off, i was told to sell my car, even though it was a few yrs old and paid off, take public transportation and then they might give me food stamps and welfare. i was buying bags of potatoes to eat, when i saw these people at the grocery stores on food stamp buying steaks, seafood, driving new cars. there are many, many people who have hidden their money, homes, etc. to get on welfare so they wont have to work. i bet more than 60% of the people do not deserve to be on welfare. i used to live and work in the dc area and new many high ranking people.

  5. says

    I’m not sure how to respond. I don’t want to negate the fact that this person needs support but she’s not alone in the land of “struggle”. I too, work in a pubic school as an assistant in Special Ed. I make less than $12,000. While I am married to a man that isn’t addicted to drugs and has a job that contributes to our family’s income….we still have many needs that go unmet.
    My family does NOT have health insurance and the government doesn’t help (nor do I think it their responsibility). Every single medical need we have (and we have 3 children–2 in college, that we have to pay for and 1 in high school) comes directly out of our budget. We have to pay for our family’s prescription med’s out of our pocket (that’s with 3 family members taking regular monthly prescriptions). That’s the full cost of the medication too. No discounts for that.
    Since my husband’s employer doesn’t provide health coverage, this has put a huge strain on our family income. However, this is our circumstance. I can’t blame anyone but us for the position we are in. Which leads me to the thinking that one is entitled to “assistance”. In this person’s message, I can sympathize completely with feeling judged by others. But at the same time no one owes any of us anything! We make our own decisions–some of them good and some not so good. Assistance shouldn’t be a lifestyle (and I don’t believe she said it was for her) it is for temporary relief.
    I guess the way I feel about this is–better yourself (I see she is trying), I’m certainly trying to do that for my own struggling family and still my family lives LITERALLY one paycheck to the next. No extra’s for us. I drive the same vehicle that I purchased in 1999 and cannot even dream of buying a replacement (not a new car a used one). Again, my situation is mine and I don’t think anyone needs to feel sorry for me.
    Life is tough. Making it is tough. The cost of food, gas, household bills and emergency needs zaps an income and then some. It’s just the way life is.
    I pass no judgement on her or anyone in her position. Let’s acknowledge that she’s not alone — other’s are barely making it, spending every penny of a 2 income household. I wish it weren’t so but it is.
    Good luck to her & I hope she reaches her dream for a better life. 🙂

  6. Wendy says

    I am glad to see it’s not just me and I am proud of you for being honest and it encourages me to do so too. I’m not sure how it differs from state to state but I live in NC. I have a son who is 12 and a daughter who is 10 months old. I too am a single mom, have never been married. My son was born preemie and it caused mental delays, epilepsy, and he has mild cerebral palsy on his right side. His father is $14,000 behind on child support and the court does nothing. He lies at court and says he is not working when he is. He works jobs that are “under the table” and makes a lot of money and knows they can’t track it. He has brought home anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 a week. and has the nerve to brag about what he is making to me or my family. Anyways I got food stamps and medicaid for myself and my son because I wasn’t working at the time. Later on I got a part-time job making only $8.00 an hour and loved the job but suddenly medicaid cut me off, and food stamps came from a couple hundred dollars to $18. Their response was “I made too much money to qualify for assistance” Thank God my son was still covered because of his disability. I was only making $90 – $150 a week to support me and my son and just 1 of my prescriptions costed me $130. So basically I was better off not working. I contacted our governor and a few others to see if they could help and all I got was I’m sorry for your troubles. Thanks to my mom she let us stay with her. I now have a daughter, I met her dad and thought he was “the one”. We were talking marriage and he wanted us to have a child together and after having a recent miscarriage I wanted a baby also so I conceived my beautiful baby girl and then he bailed. He left me in a high risk pregnancy alone and has not seen or even asked about her. So I filed for child support 8 months ago and still nothing. I had to quit my job when I got pregnant because it was a physical job and I couldn’t risk losing her. I got back on medicaid and food stamps and it helps a lot. I can go to the doctor again and I can feed my kids. There are a lot of people that take advantage of these things, like I notice a few times when I went to sign papers I see some filing for help with a very expensive sports car, high dollar name brand clothes, and expensive jewelry. How do they get money to have those things but need assistance? My kids mostly get clothes from yard sales and Wal-Mart but they look adorable. It’s just not right that a single mom can only make $8 an hour a couple days a week and be told I make too much??. But I got behind a man and woman at the grocery store one day, the didn’t speak a bit of English, the man had work clothes, and they had 3 shopping carts full of food. The total came up to $500 something and he swiped his food stamp card and had a $3 balance left. How can they get by with being 2 parents, he is for sure working but they get that much help?. It is so screwed up and unfair. I have also heard of people selling their food stamps for cash and that really upsets me. I use all of mine and still have to buy some, my son alone eats most of it. =) I also just found out that they cut eye care out of medicaid so I don’t get no eye exam anymore unless I save for a while. Luckily kids are still covered my son has really bad eyes so I can do without a while and be fine. Some people should not get this assistance but a lot do need it. Another thing is SSI, my son has got a check for it since he was a baby which has been a lot of help. But if and when his dad pays any support, they take away from my sons check. I got regular child support for about 3 months in 2010 when it was took out of his paycheck and then he quit so they couldn’t take it out anymore. I had to report it to SSI that I got it for those 3 months and ever since then they keep taking money out of my sons checks even after I have told them numerous times I don’t get child support because his father doesn’t pay it. This was in 2010 and they are still taking $65 out of each check. I am battling with child support workers for the proof that I only got that money for a few months but all they send me is documentation for past 13 months. I am soo thankful for the assistance I get but it seems to get lower all the time. If anyone wants to think bad of this they should think worse of of people who abuse it and talk bad about all the dead beat dads out their who leave mom with all the expense. My kids are my world and I will never feel bad for doing what I have to to take care of them. I was raised by a single Mom and she is my hero. So assistance or not I will always be there for them. So I applaud you Stacie you seem like an awesome mom and a strong woman and I am proud of you!!

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