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’m 26 and I live in Jackson, Mississippi. I have two kids. My oldest, De’nalious—we call him D.J.—is 7 years old. And Kayston is 1.
I work part time in people’s houses doing elder care. Working, helping people, that’s what I like to do. There’s nothing like working for people who teach you things. I love it.
I want to be a certified nursing assistant or a nurse.
I don’t receive SNAP, but my 1-year-old was born a preemie and he receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI). He was born under two pounds We have a lot of medical visits. Every Thursday is physical therapy, and Fridays are speech therapy. SSI automatically gives him Medicaid, so they pay the expenses.
Before the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, I was living check to check. I was working part time because we had no babysitter, and my work check was usually only $300 to $400 a month. I’m a single parent so I had to manage $400 a month for me and my two kids. It’s very hard being a single mother with no help.
The Trust helped me a lot because I was able to afford to put my kids in daycare. I had extra money to get things my kids need, make sure there’s food in my fridge, gas in my car. When you’re living check to check and you’re barely making money, it’s hard to live. I had times where I’d miss days of work because of no babysitter. But now I can go to work every day. I’ve got a full schedule of work now. It’s helped a lot. I pay my bills with my money.
I use the Trust money to help take care of my kids. I can get them clothes and shoes, and we can go places now. We can do fun things. We can take trips. I wanted to go somewhere different and we went to Ohio. My son’s birthday is coming up and now I can take him to LegoLand, where he wants to go.
My number one goal during the program is to pay some things off my credit. I set up payment plans. I want my kids to be able to travel and have fun, and I want to do that for them. I also want to move. And it will help if I pay things off my credit.
I use the Trust money to help take care of my kids. I can get them clothes and shoes, and we can go places now. We can do fun things. We can take trips.
I would like to own my own home one day. I was talking to someone about it and they were telling me that I had to work on my credit, get my credit score up. I feel like you can’t do anything without good credit. I want to get financially stable.
There’s nothing like a home that’s for you and your kids where they can go play in a backyard. If we get our own house and can be in our own space, and have trampolines and swings, it would be nice for us. That would be peace for me, and I really want to experience it.
The Trust is such a good program for women. It helps a lot. And I am very thankful for being selected. I can’t even put it into words. It really is a blessing. I have a lot of joy because I don’t have to worry or stress anymore. I’ve been happier lately and not frustrated or figuring out how to do this or how I’m gonna do that. It’s really been a lot of peace for me.
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.