When you don’t earn a living wage it feels like disaster is just around the corner. You live with “that knot” of fear in your stomach of an unplanned bill or expense. Too many of us are familiar with “that knot.” My living wage job changed that and now I can see a future.
I work as an emergency service worker at our local women homeless shelters. As front-line service I am the first face someone sees when they come to the shelter. We do everything; this includes creating a welcoming presence, making the beds, cooking three meals a day and helping clients connect with detox or income assistance. I like my job and I care about the women who come to our shelters.
My work is an extension of my commitment to my community. I also attend the parent advisory council meetings at my daughter’s school and volunteer with groups that speak to city councils and faith groups about the community impact that homelessness has in our neighbourhood. You can also find me scouring local second-hand stores for great bargains or catching a play at one of the local theatres.
Before my child was born I had a decent job with benefits. When my child was born she had a lot of medical problems that continued through most of her childhood. As a single mom I often had to take days off to care for my sick child or sometimes many days if we needed to travel to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for treatment.
I had to give up that job and for the next 12 years I cleaned houses. No benefits, no paid sick days. If I had to miss more than a couple days work it would take me months to get out of that financial hole. On more than one occasion I turned to payday loans to cover rent.
Since I got my living wage job, I can see a future.
I can live my life and not just react to financial demands. I am going to the dentist for the first time in 12 years. No more payday loans. Food in the fridge. Not needing to explain why my rent is late (again).
It mostly means less fear and, dare I say, happiness.