Wendy's story

Wendy Jones is anxious to start working full-time again, and she is preparing for a new career. Jones, 30, lives in Nelsonville with her husband, Jake, and their four children.

“I’ve always worked until four years ago,” Jones said. At that time, she was pregnant with her fourth child and was having complications with the pregnancy.

“I had to stay home a lot and I lost my job,” Jones said, adding that she was disappointed about losing her job in a local warehouse. “It was a good job. I liked it there.”

Since the time she had to stop working, her family has lived on just her husbands’ income, and it has been tough at times.  The family of six has been living on an annual income of $21,000 a year, which is well below the federal poverty level of $29,530 for a family of six.

The family receives help from the Food Assistance Program and from Medicaid, and Jones is thankful for the assistance from both programs. If she shops very carefully, she can purchase just about all of the food her family needs for the month with the funding from the Food Assistance Program.

“It helps out a lot,” she said.

During the time she has been out of work and taking care of her children, Jones has enrolled in Hocking College. First, she enrolled in the office management program and earned an associate’s degree in that area. In that program, she took some accounting courses and liked them, so she decided to earn an associate’s degree in accounting as well. She is on track to earn that degree this spring. She is anxious to work in accounting after she graduates, and is looking forward to whatever job she can find.

“I like to work where I am busy constantly,” Jones said.

While at Hocking College, Jones is also taking part in the Work Study program with Athens County Job and Family Services.

“It’s been good. It’s been interesting,” she said. Part of her work responsibilities in January and February included assisting with the Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center at The Work Station in The Plains. As part of her job at The Work Station, Jones took phone calls, filled out questionnaires, screened clients, made copies, put folders together and set up appointments. She liked the work, and said the experience helped her improve her customer service skills.

“Customer service is always good training,” Jones said. She also likes the people she has been able to work with at The Work Station, and is thankful that she had this opportunity.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Jones said.

With four children at home and with her husband working full-time, it can be difficult to balance school, Work Study, and all of the cooking, cleaning and everything else involved in running a household. Each day can be difficult, but Jones is working hard in order to help make a better life for her family.

“Sometimes it can be a lot, and it feels like there is just not enough time in the day,” she said.

The family is buying a home on land contract, and the house payments and all of the monthly bills quickly use up the money the family has each month. Jones is paying for college with student loans, and said that she has had to use the overage checks at times to pay for school clothes for her children, Christmas expenses and unexpected bills that come up during the year.

Money is very tight, but Jones is hoping that when she earns her degree in the spring, she will be able to get an accounting position that will help with her family’s finances.

“Hopefully, something good will come out of all of this,” Wendy said.

For now, though, she and her family are getting by day-by-day and month-by-month, and Jones is thankful she has been able to go back to school and prepare for a new career. Her children, she added, are proud of her for going back to school, and she’s pleased she has been able to set a good example for them.

“They’re happy that I’m in school,” she said.