When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Posted by idawrites on April 25, 2008 in Children, Health, Poverty |

I was tagged by Lynnae over at Being Frugal yesterday, to write a post on Making Lemonade from Lemons (or turning bad times into blessings). Without further ado, here is my most memorable Lemonade Story.

At the end of 2000, my husband and I separated. My 3 daughters and I moved to Georgia, from Kentucky to live with my mother. I got a job as a 3rd shift waitress, got a car, and over the course of 5 months, managed to move out and find a place of our own. In the beginning of May, just as we were getting settled, I took my daughters for a picnic at the school playground. No sooner than the girls managed to climb into the playground equipment, my (then) 7 year old daughter fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm.

For those not really well versed in the “benefits” package of a 3rd shift Huddle House waitress…. well, it’s easy. There is none. I did not qualify for any of the assistance programs because I had a job, no matter that it paid just barely above minimum wage.

The only thing I could think of as my baby limped across the playground holding her S shaped forearm was that I had no health insurance and NO way to pay the medical bills we were getting ready to incur. I took her to the Emergency Room and they got her all patched up and I went home to a sleepless night.

The next day, I made a tough decision and quit my job, then went to the Department for Family and Children Services and applied for medicaid, food stamps, and welfare. I felt so completely defeated and miserable. My pride took a pretty good beating that day.

During the application process, the caseworker told me that there were some serious restrictions to receiving monetary payments. I would have to attend a career building workshop to learn to write a resume, interviewing skills, and applicable job skills. I’d have to complete the workshop before receiving the first “welfare check” and to continue to receive the cash benefits, I was required to send out a minimum of 15 resumes a week from the career workshop office. They even had a program set up with Marshall’s to provide as many interview clothes as I could buy for $200.

I left the office that day with an approval for medicaid, state paid childcare, a voucher for interview clothes at Marshall’s, and an appointment with the career building workshop the following morning. I made some fabulously frugal choices at Marshall’s and got my interviewing wardrobe together. I showed up at that workshop the next morning on my A-Game! I soaked up every suggestion like a sponge.

They helped me get my resume together and made interview suggestions. I spent hours and hours mailing out resumes and cover letters and making telephone calls and listing my resume online. I grabbed onto that Lemon and I squeezed it for all it was worth.

Ten days later, 2 weeks before I received my first and ONLY welfare payment from the State of Georgia, I had a day time office job, paying the most I’d ever made ($10 and hour), and a whole pitcher of Lemonade. I’ve come a long way since that morning that I was so badly broken down in the welfare office.

I never forget how far I’ve come to get to this point, but sometimes the memory does get a little dim. Thank you, Lynnae, for helping me dust it off. It’s going to come in handy as I gather my strength for the lemons that are dropping into my lap in the near future.

* Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
* Link back to person who tagged you.
* Write about an incident in your life you first thought was really bad, but ended up being a blessing.
* Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
* Let each person you tagged know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

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