Dream Pathways: Tell us a little bit about your story.
Dawn: I'm a single mother of 3 (ages 13, 7, and 5). I spent eight and half years on active duty with the Air Force and one and a half years with the Air Force Reserve. I left active duty because my youngest child had sickle cell disease. The military wanted me to deploy even though her father was already serving in Iraq. After going a year without work I finally got a job as an admin assistant at the local hospital in my hometown.
Dream Pathways: How much did you earn?
Dawn: I started off making $8 an hour. That was considered good money because I didn't have a degree. They didn't care that I had well over 10 years work experience.
Dream Pathways: How did you manage to make a living on such a small salary?
Dawn: I did receive food stamps but I turned down any cash assistance. Bottom line I was frugal! I only bought what was needed. I utilized free entertainment in my area. I bartered with other parents. I did what I had to do to make it but I never let my kids think we were poor. We were okay as long as we were alive and healthy..
Dream Pathways: What were your motivations at the time?
Dawn: My kids are always my motivation. I want them know that their mother is doing good but I want them to do better!
Dream Pathways: How long did you live like this?
Dawn: I stayed at that job for 11 months before leaving. I had been applying of better jobs six months prior. A potential job came up that prompted me to move to the DMV(DC, MD, VA) area. The job fell through but I ended up with an even better job two months after moving.
Dream Pathways: Were there any special people, organizations, friends, or family that helped you get through it?
Dawn: My family and friends have always been a wonderful support system. My aunt Delores allowed me to live with her for 5 months while I got myself together.
Dream Pathways: What were your biggest challenges?
Dawn: One of the biggest challenges was moving away from the majority of my family. A month after moving my oldest child's father was killed in a car accident. It was extremely hard to be there for him and dealing with the rest of my life at the same time. I felt as if there wasn't enough of me to go around.
Dream Pathways: If could give a piece of advice/encouragement to someone who may be going through similar circumstances, what would it be?
Dawn: I truly believe as women there isn't anything we can't handle. It's in our design. No matter what you are going through there is almost always something in your life you can look at and say "I did that and I did it well."
Dream Pathways: Anything else you would like to add to your story?
Dawn: Through all my ups and downs, I wouldn't change any of it. It happened for a reason and I'm a better person because of it.