ALICE Mother struggles despite working two jobs
If Alice Snyder could wish for one thing, it would be more hours in the day.
Hours to spend with family. Hours to rest. Hours to enjoy life a little. But, right now her hours are consumed with working two jobs in order to survive.
She’d realize how exhausted she is, if only she had the time.
Five days a week you can find Alice at Rappahannock Goodwill Industries as an employment aid for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which means a busy 40-hour work week.
“On the weekends, I try to find a senior that I can care for and that’s usually anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a weekend,” said Snyder, who has lived in a mobile home park in Spotsylvania for the past three years after separating from her husband. “I have no downtime. I have no me time. I don’t feel like I have quality time with my daughter or my grandchildren. I used to have my grandchildren all the time, but I don’t have that opportunity anymore. My kids are everything to me.”
Although Alice longs for brighter days ahead, she’s unsure about what her future holds.
“I have a high school degree,” said Snyder, who always thought about going back to school although she enjoyed staying at home raising her children for 17 years prior to her separation. “The job I currently have, the only way to move up is with a degree. That’s really just not an option right now because I have a 12-year-old and I work seven days a week. I need about 10 more hours added to each day.”
Alice is like so many others in our community – struggling to make ends meet. More than 39% of households in Virginia are walking a financial tightrope, unable to afford the high cost of living and just one emergency away from falling into poverty. It’s a term coined by United Way as ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed.
With the cost of living higher than what many people earn, ALICE households have income above the Federal Poverty Level, but not high enough to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
“I feel like I work nonstop and there’s never enough funds,” said Synder, who cuts every corner she can when it comes to her budget. “I make sure that everything that’s necessary is taken care of the best I can. Groceries are usually the last thing I worry about. I worry about my bills first. My mom helps me out some. I don’t like for my mother to be helping because I feel, if anything, I should be helping her. She helps me with part of my lot rent here. Even working the part-time job, it’s not enough to cover everything.”
People like Alice Snyder work too much to qualify for help, yet it’s not enough to survive. People who are ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed – often don’t qualify for governmental aid or social service programs, so they are virtually invisible to the system. Their struggle is often unseen and unknown. People like Alice Snyder are forced to make difficult decisions.
“I do have health insurance, but I was going to drop it to save the $40 every two weeks,” said Snyder, who has put off procedures because of the cost and has recently been dealing with serious kidney issues, which included surgery. “It was a good thing I didn’t or I’d even be more financially strapped. When I have medical issues, I let them go and go until they get so bad that it knocks me down.”
What’s the answer for people who fall into this ALICE population?
Rappahannock United Way is currently leading the way in Virginia to answer that question. In July, United Ways across Virginia will unveil the first statewide ALICE Report. This report clearly shows us who ALICE is, where ALICE lives, and how ALICE struggles in the state of Virginia.
United Ways have a vision for a community where individuals and families achieve their potential through education, financial stability and healthy living. That’s why Rappahannock United Way called together local United Ways throughout our great state to join the more than 450 other United Ways across 15 states to give ALICE a voice and create change to improve life for ALICE and our communities as a whole.
For hard working people in our community like Alice Snyder, the answers we are working to uncover are crucial.
“If there was an opportunity from Rappahannock United Way that could help me change my situation, I’d take ‘em up it,” said Snyder. “I would. And I would work hard at it and prove that I can make a difference.”
To learn more about ALICE and how Rappahannock United Way is working to find solutions for these families and individuals, visit www.VirginiaALICE.org