If you are in Washington, DC, join me today at the Shakespeare Theatre Family Fun Fair from 10:00-2:00 downtown near the Verizon Center. It should be a fun event for the whole family.
I was recently dog-sitting in Manassas, VA for my friends Tressa and Tom. It was nice to have a new community for a few days to share the Year of Giving with. On my first day there I headed over to Costco to get some items that I needed. As I was leaving I saw a man sitting with his child. I asked him to be my 234th recipient but he preferred not to participate. His name was Jeremy.
I then headed over to the Giant grocery store on Sudley Rd and picked up another couple items to have on hand for my weekend “getaway” in Manassas. I was still looking for someone else but just didn’t seem to see the right person. About a block away from the Giant there was a Family Dollar store. I drove over there and saw a woman coming out of the store.
I parked quickly and ran over to Angela who was now loading her purchases into the car. She was very friendly and open to talking with me. We talked for about thirty minutes and I have thought about her and her story every day since.
Angela is a 35-year-old single mother of five kids! The oldest is 17 and the youngest is seven. Unfortunately she doesn’t have custody of the children right now because the father (they are separated) had nearby family that would be able to help raise the children. Angela’s closest family members are in West Virginia. She works two full-time jobs right now as a certified nursing assistant in order to be able to support herself and make payments to help with childcare of her children. “I have been working as a CNA for 14 years now,” She says. “I like what I do; it’s like taking care of family.”
As we talked more I discovered that just how difficult of a time it was for Angela when she and her husband separated. It set off a series of events. She got depressed and ended up losing her job and later her home. “I slept in my car for a total of six months to get back to living in an apartment,” she told me.
Angela shared this very emotional moment with me in this video clip. It’s heartbreaking to see and hear her describe such a difficult time in her life.
Angela has her own apartment now and wants to go back to school to get her nursing degree. She also wants custody of her children. “It’s really hard,” she admits. I think it’s important that Angela pursue her nursing degree so that she can have a more stable financial situation, work fewer hours and have a more active role in the lives of her children. The challenge with that is to be able to juggle nursing school while still working enough to make ends meet. If you or anyone you know is a career counselor at a school that might be able to speak with Angela and give her some guidance on how to successfully manage all that, please contact me so that I can put you in touch with her.
As I said earlier I think about my conversation with Angela every day. Meeting her and learning about her story really touched my heart. It’s people like Angela that I meet that make going out and giving my $10 away every day worth it.
She was tired and had worked all week. Angela told me that she was going to run in to the Aldi supermarket and get some groceries with my $10. I gave her a hug and walked back to my car and just sat there for a while thinking about how difficult it must have been to lose her husband, her children, her job, her house and live in her car.
Her determination and perseverance remind me of a quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Angela’s tide is turning.