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Donors rush to help cash-strapped mom featured in Gazette

The plight of a struggling unemployed single mother — highlighted by this newspaper — moved a Pembroke woman to donate $50 to her yesterday.

And when news of the donor's generosity was revealed on a Bermuda radio station yesterday, it sparked a flood of further donations from people wanting to help.

The distraught mother-of-three featured in The Royal Gazette on Wednesday has been unemployed for over a year. The former Government employee, who asked not to be named, said she was told that she would have to put her eldest, 19-year-old son out of the house to qualify for financial assistance.

Yesterday, a 44-year-old Pembroke mother-of-five, approached us to try to give $50 to the woman featured in the story, saying that she knows first hand what it's like to be unemployed with nowhere to turn.

She added that she was upset that Bermudians had rushed to assist businessman Wendell ‘Shine' Hayward with his rental arrears, ahead of the desperate mother whose plight we featured. Mr Hayward received more than $13,000, which went straight to his landlord, after an appeal led by Sherri Simmons on her radio show on Magic 102.7FM.

She challenged residents to follow her lead to avert a family crisis.

“I saw the headlines, people gave money for Shine Hayward's club and right below that I saw the story about this single mother,” said the donor, who asked not to be named.

“Her plight really touched home with me because I was in the same situation three years ago.”

A self-employed tiler for 12 years, when the economy took a dive she was faced with having to find a whole new line of work.

“Tiling was all I knew from the age of 13. I did other jobs but that was my first trade and I was hitting 40 with no other job skills. I knew I had to do something.”

Divorced for about six years, her darkest days came when she and her youngest child had nowhere to live. Her children range in age from 26 down to eight years old.

“I lost my apartment and I was desperately looking for work. The Department of Financial Assistance was no help, so I can understand what she's going through.

“What's the point of sending someone deeper into debt when they come to you for help to avoid that?

“If they come to you one month behind in their rent wouldn't it make more sense for Government to assist you then?

“Why send you three months behind in rent?”

Her rent was eight months behind, to the tune of $8,000, when the department offered her assistance.

Still not working full-time with “only little hustles here and there” she got up early to beat the employment trail daily.

“It's depressing, all you want to do is take care of your family. You're not asking anybody to just give — you want to work.

“It was a rough seven months and that was three years ago. This woman has been out of work through no fault of her own for over a year.”

Her biggest issue lies with the separation of families through the Department of Financial Assistance.

“They claim they are there to assist families in need,” she said. “If that's the case how can you separate families?

“That's just putting more stress in a mother's life. It's bizarre! When I read her story it really ticked me off.”

When contacted, radio host Sherri Simmons pledged $200 to assist. Once the appeal went out over the airwaves several people stepped up with donations.

One woman hand delivered a note with $300 in cash to go towards the woman's rent which is $2,000 due at the end of the month. Another woman pledged to help find her a job.

By press time last night, nearly half of her rent had been raised in cash and pledges. The funds will be handed over next week.

“I wish I could do more and I'm asking people, even if it's just $5 to help this family,” the initial donor said. “I don't believe in the welfare mentality of just paying people's way. We need to offer a hand up — not handouts.

“Let's get this woman and others like her back on her feet and back to work. If you get people employed, then they can carry themselves.”

For more information, e-mail cwilson@royalgazette.com or call 278-0157.

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Published October 18, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 18, 2013 at 9:37 am)

Donors rush to help cash-strapped mom featured in Gazette

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