It’s Monday. You are a single mother with three children living in Fort Worth. You are up at 4:30 a.m. to keep the house in order. You start the laundry, pack lunches and make payments on a few bills.
You wake up the children at 5:30 to feed them and get them ready for school. By 6:30, you have to head out because your work shift begins at 7. You take the children to the apartment next door so your neighbor can take them to the bus stop at 7:15. You start your car and leave for your eight-hour shift as a housekeeper at a hotel downtown.
At 3 p.m., you’re off to your second job, at the local grocery store, taking only a 15-minute break in between.
You clock out at 7:30 p.m., pick up the children from the extended child care you’ve paid for and bring them home. You whip up something fast and filling for them to eat, try your best to get them to do their homework at that late hour and put them to bed at 9 p.m. You fall asleep on the couch at 10 p.m., exhausted. You repeat that schedule Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
On Saturday you wake up, still worn out from the week, trying to work on your budget before the kids awake. Sixty hours a week at minimum wage — your weekly income is $435, or $23,000 a year. You stare at your budget with tears glistening in your eyes. You are doing everything you can to take care of your family, but it is just not enough.
Your children are almost awake. Your youngest is supposed to attend a friend’s birthday party. You know you are going to have to break her heart and not allow her to go because you can’t afford a present and cannot bear the humiliation of showing up empty-handed.
That is the real face of poverty in Fort Worth.
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