On December 23, 2013 two days before my 60th birthday, I swallowed a stomach full of pride and walked into the Department of Social Services to ask for help. It is something I never imagined I would do. I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who thought it would always be someone else, someone worse off who just didn't or couldn't work hard enough, who would need that type of assistance. I was wrong, because I am the new working poor.
Both my parents were children of the Great Depression, both knew hunger -- the real, not-having-food-for-several-days kind of hunger. Both knew disappointment. My father had to turn down a scholarship to Notre Dame to work alongside his father, delivering coal to the wealthy. Neither of my parents ever caught a break. Every time an illness or disaster would set them back, they would work that much harder to make my life and those of my four siblings better. We didn't have much, hand-me-downs and second-hand everything. But unlike our parents, we never went hungry. After all, this is America, they would tell us, and your life is not dictated by the circumstances of your birth.
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