Nickie and Jerrod's story

Like a lot of Americans, Guysville-area residents Nickie and Jerrod have been hurt by the country’s economic problems.

They are both going back to school, though, in order to give themselves a better future and to provide a better future for their son. And while they struggle to pay all of the bills each month, they know that they are on the right path.

Jerrod used to work for the state, but the state budget cuts cost him his job. Today, he is receiving unemployment compensation and is taking classes at Hocking College.

Nickie has worked for several businesses in the region, and also decided to go to Hocking College so that she can become qualified for better jobs with better pay. She has enjoyed many of the jobs she has had, but knows she needs to get a college degree in order to improve her work opportunities.

At Hocking College, Jerrod is in the certified medical assistant program and is on track to graduate in August. After he receives his degree, he plans to work as a certified medical assistant and then enroll in a program to become a registered nurse. Nickie, meanwhile, is a double major at Hocking College studying business and accounting.

“I want a degree that’s pretty general so that I can apply for different types of jobs,” she said. She started out as a business major, but added the accounting major after taking a few classes in that field and enjoying them

Nickie also takes part in a work study program at Hocking College. She is working at Athens County Job and Family Services in the program, and helped out with the Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center earlier in the year. The program operated out of The Work Station in The Plains, and Nickie answered phones, helped at the front desk and made appointments for the tax center. She also has been helping out in the Athens County Job and Family Services administrative office doing Internet research and assisting with special projects. The work has been challenging, but it has been a good learning experience.

“I really like office environments,” she said.

Because unemployment does not cover their basic needs, Nickie and Jerrod are receiving some public assistance benefits in order to help them get by. They are enrolled in the Food Assistance Program and also receive a gas allowance from Athens County Job and Family Services to help them afford to drive back and forth to school. They also received some utility assistance this winter to pay for their electric bills.

All of the assistance programs have been very helpful.

“Money is tight,” Nickie said. It’s hard to get all of the bills paid each month, especially in the winter, she said. The family rents an old, drafty house, and in one month this past winter the electric bill was over $1,000. The utility assistance helped to pay part of that one bill, but Nickie and Jerrod are still trying to pay off the rest that they owe from that month.

“It’s very hard to pay it off and also pay all of the other bills,” she said. “We just live paycheck to paycheck.”  While things are tough, Nickie and Jerrod are getting by and are taking care of their son. Money is tight right now and life is not easy, but Nickie and Jerrod know that they are on the path toward starting new careers and building a better future.