Front and Center: Guaranteed Income Helped Amber Be a Better “All-Around Support System” for her Kids

Front and Center is a groundbreaking series of op-eds—published by Ms. and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—which aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level. The series highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing.

What possibilities could open up for low-income families if financial survival weren’t always top of mind? What dreams would these mothers and families be able to pursue? What activism and community leadership might arise? The series will answer these and other questions, by placing one mother’s story front and center every other week. The first-person accounts in this series are available for reprint. Find additional guidelines at the end of this story.


I have two kids, a little boy and a little girl. My little girl’s name is E’Niya; she is 7 years old and in the second grade. My son Ahmir is in first grade. They both attend the same charter school. My son is a Gemini and my daughter is an Aries—and I say that because they have the personalities to match.

I currently work from home as a call center representative for different home goods companies like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. I really enjoy the work; I have fallen in love with the products and I’m also good at handling customers who are frustrated. I also understand their frustrations because they are spending thousands of dollars! My goal is to work up to a supervisor role, which I could also do from home. 

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I went to school for finance—anything with numbers, I’m really good at. I have my associate’s degree, and after COVID dies down I’d like to go back and get my bachelor’s in finance as well. My main goal at the moment is to build a career with a company and have good benefits, though I’ve also thought about entrepreneurship since a business is something I could pass down to my kids. I love to bake and cook, so I’ve thought about trying to turn that into something with vending machines. Basically anything centered on food and family sparks my interest.

My goal with my kids is to be an all-around support system for them in all aspects of their life, especially for their mental health because I think that’s a really important issue in the Black community. I want to make sure they are given the proper tools to protect their mental and physical health in order to progress in life.

Two things that I’m focused on right now are getting transportation, because I don’t have a car right now, which is hard with two kids. I’m also thinking about counseling for my kids—they haven’t shown any signs of the pandemic wearing on them, but it’s something I worry about. I also think it’s just good for kids to have someone to talk to other than their parents, you know? Because sometimes parents just don’t understand what their kids are going through.

I know as a mom sometimes I don’t understand my children. And I went to counseling when I was a kid because my mother passed away when I was young, and it was good for me to have that outlet. Just having someone else to talk to—and for me to be able to talk t—to get a better sense of where they’re coming from would be helpful.

I’m in a good place right now, things are going well. So I’m just trying to focus on that and build on it.

Being part of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust helped me out a lot with my bills. At the time, I had a car so the money helped me buy gas for taking my kids where they needed to be and for buying them clothes for different seasons because we had some crazy weather down here during that year. It also helped me pay for some investments in my own side business of baking—I bought some new baking sheets and inventory. I do wish that at the time I was receiving the money I had also been thinking about how to use vending machines as part of my business; that wasn’t something I thought of until after, and it’s harder to make that happen now that I don’t have those funds. If I had been able to put money into the vending machine idea back then, I’d have money coming in right now. 

The program was great though. It helped me and my kids so much and gave us a lot of support during the pandemic. My only regret is that COVID kept us from having the meetings in person we were going to have with the group of other participants. I was really looking forward to being connected with the other moms and being there for each other, just that overall sisterly bond you get from being in community with other women. 


Front and Center pieces are free to republish, under the following guidelines:

  • To ensure context isn’t lost, at the top of your reprint, include a line that reads: “Front and Center is a series of op-eds—published by Ms. magazine and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—highlighting the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust program, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing. The series aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level.” (You can use editorial discretion to alter or shorten the text slightly.)
  • You may also republish the photographs included in this story.
  • If you share republished stories on social media, we’d appreciate being tagged in your posts. You can find Ms. on Twitter @MsMagazine, on Instagram @ms_magazine and on Facebook. Springboard to Opportunities is on Twitter @SpringboardToOp, on Instagram @springboard_to and on Facebook.

Have questions on the series? Read more here, and direct specific questions to Katie Fleischer at [email protected].

About

Amber is a mother of two who works as a call center operator. She was part of the second round of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which started just as the pandemic did in March of 2020.