“Ok, so here it is. I’m a just a parent who cares about their son and I’m trying to make a better life for us. I go to college and was working part time at Target. I got fired and I really don’t understand why. The reasons they gave were vague and I smell discrimination. Anyway, I go to DSHS to get some help and they say I have to find full time work if I want to get benefits. I don’t know what to do because I have to go to school, or what’s the point? I want to become a mental health counselor, and really do something more with my life than work at Target.
“So my caseworker at DSHS said I’m not eligible for anything unless I look for full time work. Not eligible for medical, food stamps, the whole thing. My POWER advocate let me know that I am eligible for some of that and helped me make a complaint against my worker. POWER is helping me stand up for myself and when I graduate college I’m going to stand up for others. I don’t see how people can look in the mirror and not care about our safety net.”
Monica Peabody is the proud mother of an incredible daughter born in 1990. A single mothershortly after her daughter’s birth, she got to experience our society’s lack of support and disrespect for single mothers first hand. A committed breast-feeder, Monica was made to feel even that was an act of defiance by many of those around her. Raising a child during the passage of welfare reform made an avid activist of Monica. She joined the policy committee of the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition (WROC) when her daughter was a preschooler and they began to protest and lobby to end poverty.When she moved to Olympia from Seattle in 1995, she wasshocked to discover there was no welfare rights organization. Aftermultiple conversations with parents who were being told they hadto quit college and go find low-wage work, they started organizingand held their first welfare rights meeting in Olympia in 1997.Monica accepted a VISTA position with WROC in 1998 so shecould quit cleaning houses and organize full time. Although theVISTA stipend is considered poverty wages, it was more thantwice her welfare grant. What’s unbelievable is that a welfare grant is smaller today than hers was 20 years ago. Watching moreand more families falling into poverty and being disregarded byour society is heartbreaking, yet makes the work toward buildingresistance all the more crucial. Monica also works at the Olympia Food Cooperative. She plays and teaches old-time banjo.