Erica's story

Erica is overcoming some substantial barriers in order to provide for a better life for her daughter, and she has big plans for her future.

Erica, who is 21, lives in Nelsonville with her two-year-old daughter. Her life is not easy and she does not have enough money to pay all of her bills each month, but she’s doing whatever she can to get by and become more independent.

Erica dropped out of school when she was in high school, and that decision has made life tough for her.

“It was a stupid mistake,” she said about leaving school. She was not able to get a good job because she did not have her high school diploma, and she said it is degrading to be labeled as a “high school dropout.”

She ended up enrolling in the Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) program at The Work Station in The Plains, and recently passed her GED test. She is very happy to have her degree, and plans on taking part in the ABLE graduation ceremony in June. The ceremony is for all of the students who have received their GEDs in the last year, and it is always an emotional and inspirational event.

It took a lot of work to prepare for the GED test, but Erica has enjoyed her time in the ABLE program and now wants to study psychology at Hocking College.

Her first priority is to get a job, though, and to become more independent.

Currently, she and her daughter receive $365 per month in Ohio Works First cash assistance, in addition to receiving Food Assistance Program benefits and medical benefits.

Her rent is $300 per month, and that takes nearly all of the cash assistance each month. Her boyfriend and mother help pay her utility bills and some food expenses, so Erica has $65 each month to pay for diapers and clothing for her daughter, and extra expenses that arise.

“I can’t buy anything,” she said.

She is hoping that all of that will change when she gets a job, and she knows that she is on the right path. She took the first step when she enrolled in the ABLE program, and another giant step when she earned her GED.

Erica is smart and has a great attitude, and she is motivated to build a better life for her daughter. In time, she’ll get to where she wants to go in life, she just needs the assistance she is receiving now in order to help her on her way.