Help a Son Support His Mother

I struggle with where to begin this story. How do I best convey the reasons for both why my mother is in need, and why she deserves to be given the entire world? Perhaps I should mention her childhood upbringing in the Red Hook Projects of Brooklyn. Perhaps I should paint you a portrait of the dysfunctions in her family and turmoil of her marriages. Maybe I should disclose all the stories of vulnerability, violence and danger she has shared with me while I was growing up. Painful stories she offered as a means to keep her son aware of what this world is capable of doing––stories that were never intended for you.

But I fear that an intrinsic part of asking for help is to give out my mother’s most precious and sacred and private in hopes that you’ll deem it worthy. In hopes that her years of pain could somehow now be made lucrative. And that is truly terrifying!

As you read through the description of my mother’s circumstance, I ask that you remember what she has been through and is going through isn’t the totality of her. I’m sharing these pieces of her life (with her permission) because this world owes her care, owes her acknowledgement, owes her comfort, and this is just my small attempt towards getting her that.

I’ll try to make this as succinct as possible.

My mother is an alcoholic who has accomplished years upon years of sobriety until rather recently, when life has proven to be too much. This disease is one that she inherited from her father, and has plagued my family for generations. Because of alcoholism, my mother spent my high school experience absent, jobless, and without a secure home. She lost her car and license due to DWI’s, lost precious time with her family, and has been forced to rebuild her life seemingly from scratch.

In 2015, at the age of 51, after having graduated over 20 years prior, my mother returned to school. She enrolled to become a certified Medical Assistant and Phlebotomist. She made her return for two reasons: one, because she knew that if she were to go looking for jobs an employer would question why there is such a large gap in her work experience. She wanted her certification in hand so she would be able to walk in with some confidence. Secondly, she knew that her body could no longer withstand the strain of returning to the work she use to do as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in elderly homes.

In the midst of dealing with severe depression, bodily fatigue from having to take two buses to and from school each day, and the embarrassment of being in class with 19 and 20-year-olds, she ended her year and a half at the school at the top of her class, with a 4.0 GPA and National Certificates in both her fields of study.

My mother has been getting section 8 housing for the last 10 years. She has been on disability for the majority of that time as well after being diagnosed with a personality disorder. While on section 8 she is not allowed to make over $8,000 a year or else she’ll be considered not eligible for the program. Because of this ceiling my mother isn’t able to work much. Her hope with going back to school was that she would be able to get a job that paid well enough so it wouldn’t matter if she were eligible or not.

However, since graduating she has sent out well over a 100 resumes and applications to no avail. The few places that did seem promising always managed to find reasons to not hire her. Many places ended up turning her down after they learned she didn’t have a car, even though she always managed to make it on time for the multiple interviews they requested for her at their location.

Another employer who basically promised her the position also changed their mind at the last minute. After my mother took her final drug test (which came out completely clean!), the employer decided to ask my mother her experience with drugs and alcohol. My mother, rightfully so, questioned why she would ask that given that her drug test came out clean. The woman (a home grown racist) said it was a “standard question.” My mother decided to be honest, and was told the next day the position was no longer open.

Since she hasn’t been able to work, the only money my mother has at her disposal for the month is her disability check (a little over $700), her food stamps (around $150), and whatever money my brother and I can pull together between the both of us to make sure she isn’t in need of anything. After paying rent and bills, her disability check is gone. This leaves her with her food stamps, but how the fuck is someone suppose to eat a month on $150?

This constant financial strain coupled with the fact that she lives alone is what has been fueling her depression, and feelings of worthlessness. She has been trying her best to not allow these feelings to swallow her. About a month ago she started working at a Mexican food place down the block her house, but eventually had to quit. She was making a little over $8 an hour, but because she was getting an income her food stamps were lessened. Her job was prepping food as well as washing dishes, but due to her history of lower back problems, being forced to stand for such long extended periods of time proved too much for her body. Being that her food stamps were getting cut she wasn’t making that much more extra money anyway.

Here is the plan and why I am asking for your help.

Since my mother has been on section 8 for 10 years, she has been granted the opportunity to relocate. She has decided to move to Maryland, where her sister and niece lives. I’m hoping that $2000 of this goal could go to her daily living expenses up until March (about 6 months) when her lease is up. $1000 would help with her moving costs and essentials for her new home. And the final $1000 would help to support her while she’s living in Maryland, again looking for employment.

This move is not only a great opportunity, I truly believe it is something that could potentially save her life. Her depression has become violent, and honestly I have feared that she wouldn’t make it out of this year. But at the same time, fuck that! Because I refuse to allow the trauma of this world to take her.

I thank you for your help!

My mother is truly one of this despicable world’s greatest things. 


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Timothy DuWhite 
Brooklyn, NY
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