Catherine's story

Catherine Hogsett wants more than anything to move her family to a place where they can have a new start, but right now she has a hard time just moving herself from room to room because of her back problems.

clip_image002Hogsett, 27, is a single mother with two children, ages 5 and 7. She lives in Glouster, and has lived in the area for most of her life. In 2001, she was working on her parents’ farm moving bales of hay when she ruptured a disc in her back and had to have surgery. The surgery included taking pieces of bone from her hip and putting them in her back. She also had a metal plate, two rods and four screws placed in her back.

“It makes it very difficult to walk,” Hogsett said. She is in constant pain, cannot sit or stand in one place for very long and walks gingerly to avoid hurting her back. She was married at the time of her initial surgery, and the insurance that she had paid for the bulk of the cost.

She is divorced, now, though, and her doctor won’t take the insurance she has through the state’s medical card system. She needs more medical care to take care of her back problems, but wants to go to the doctor that did her initial surgery because she is comfortable with him. She wants to find a way to afford to see that same doctor or get insurance that he will accept, so right now she is just living with the pain.

In her current condition, though, she can’t move very well and there is no way she can work. She cares for her two children and gets by on very little. Each month, Hogsett receives $400 in child support, as well as funding from the food nutrition program. She also receives Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to help pay her rent.

The child support money has to pay part of the rent, and then cover as many other bills as possible. The phone and cable each get shut off every few months, and then when she is able to get some extra money she pays to get them turned back on. She has no computer or Internet service, but a Job and Family Services program will provide her with a computer and Internet service in a few months. Hogsett is happy about that, and said her oldest child plays on the computer often when he is at his grandparents.

Hogsett said that if she received any Ohio Works First cash assistance, she would lose her child support money. She was turned down once for disability income, and may apply again after hearing from others that most people get turned down the first time. She does not know much about the services that are available to her, and said she went a long time without the food program funding because she did not know she was eligible.

When she calls social service agencies such as Job and Family Services for assistance, she hates how she always has to talk to a different person and can never get the person she called the last time. She finds many of the programs confusing and wishes there was a simple way to understand all of the services open to her.

She also wishes she didn’t need any of the services any longer. She doesn’t want help. She wants to be the person providing help to others. Before she hurt her back, Hogsett was taking classes at Hocking College and doing very well.

“I would be a nurse right now,” she said, She wanted to become a nurse because she likes helping people, and she is disappointed she has not been able to finish her program and begin working. In order to get by, she does what she can to care for her children, going to food banks when she needs extra food for them and helping them around the house in any way that she can.

“There are days when I’ll go without breakfast or lunch or both so they can have food,” Hogsett said. She is very happy to be able to receive food assistance funding and housing assistance, but wishes a few things would change that would help her.

She wishes that she could receive cash assistance funding without losing her child support money. She wishes that her doctor would accept her insurance card and help her with her back problem, or that she could get a different insurance policy. She wishes that there was a way to better understand all of the programs available to help her. She wishes she could get her back better so she could walk and sit without being in pain. She wishes she could work again.

“I really want to get out of this town for my kids’ sake,” Hogsett said. Outside her home, she sees people doing drugs and selling drugs, and she does not want her children to be exposed to that. She wants to be able to have a nice home in a nice neighborhood for her children, away from the drugs and problems.

But for now, all of these things are just wishes, and she can’t do much about them. She can’t go get a job, she can’t increase her income and she can’t move her kids, in fact she can barely move from room to room.