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Ashley Holdren knows exactly what she wants to be doing five years from now.
The 18-year-old Guysville resident plans to be an x-ray technician, possibly working out west, as she longs to travel. She’s smart and determined to reach her goals, she just needs a little boost to help her reach them
A single-mother of 16-month-old son, Holdren dropped out of school earlier this year when she and her mother moved and she entered a new high school. Holdren was in her senior year and did not like the way the school was set up with its classes and scheduling, so she dropped out. She planned to spend more time with her son and work toward her GED.
She is on track to earn her GED in April, and she hopes to begin taking classes in the x-ray technician program at Hocking College in the fall.
Holdren receives funding through the LEAP Program to help pay for child care and for gas to-and-from classes and different programs, and she also receives $410 each month in cash assistance to help care for her son.
“It’s helpful for the things that I need and that the baby needs,” Holdren said. She still lives with her mother, but tries to pay for her own expenses and her son’s expenses as much as she can.
“I don’t expect my mom to pay for everything. It’s not her responsibility. It’s my responsibility,” Holdren said.
She is hoping to get a job soon, and is applying for just about anything. She doesn’t want to be on public assistance for long, and said that any job she can get now will help pay her bills. She is greatly looking forward to when she can work as an x-ray technician and live independently.
“I hope to get off of assistance just as soon as I can,” Holdren said. “Right now, it’s very helpful.”
Holdren has to spend a certain number of hours each week at The Work Station fulfilling requirements for the cash assistance, and she also spends a lot of time studying and preparing for the GED. In addition to that, she takes care of her son and hopes to be working soon.
“It’s just what you do as part of your responsibility when you have a baby,” she said.
She and her mother currently share a car, and if there was a program in Athens County that helped clients receive car loans so that she could get her own car, it would help a great deal, Holdren said. She added that she has seen programs like this in Washington County.
Also, if the cash assistance for families could be increased, that would go a long way toward helping her pay her bills and care for her son. She would also like to see the state loosen the eligibility and age requirements for the Food Assistance program, as she is not currently eligible to receive assistance for herself and her son through this program. It would be a big help to her to have funding from the program for food, Holdren said.
Living on assistance is a fact of life for Holdren today, and there is no other way for her to pay all of her bills. She knows, though, that in a few years, she will be off of assistance and working as an x-ray technician, hopefully somewhere out west where she can care for her son as he grows up.
“I’ve never really been anywhere,” Holdren said. “I want to go and see some things.”