The “working poor” are people who have a job – maybe even several – yet are barely scraping by. They’re often invisible…mopping the floors after closing, taking fares at a parking garage, or frying your burger behind the counter.
ideastream’s Brian Bull met with one such individual – Natasha Wynn – a young woman who was formerly homeless, now working a fast food job and trying to raise her 1-year-old daughter, Robin.
In the first installment of an ongoing series about the working poor produced by ideastream's Brian Bull, Wynn tells her story in her own words….
“My name is Natasha Wynn, I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m 21 years old and I was born at Metro (MetroHealth Medical Center) in Cleveland. I finished high school in the year 2011.
“I was in Transitional Housing Inc., from January of 2012 to April of 2013. Transitional Housing and the staff and the people there, they helped me so much. Parenting classes, they showed me how to change her, stuff like that. Transitional housing was like a mother factor to me. They just kinda loved me and showed me the way, knitting and sewing. And stuff like that, how to budget my money. Now I think I can budget my money in my sleep! (LAUGHS)
“I stay here at the Rockport Apartments. We’ve been here for about 3 months now. We’re still adjusting, and gradually getting back on our feet.
“I didn’t really know my father, and my mom, she was just always in and out. I never really had a stable place to say. For I was always living in other people’s homes….and when they felt it was time for me to go, it was time me to go.
“Robin’s father is not in the picture. And uh…(LAUGHS) we met in 5th grade, we was playing tennis together. I always felt like I was a better tennis player, and vice-versa. So we ended up paired up together to play the coaches one day. And like since then, we became like really good friends. We reconnected in our 12th grade year. Just kickin’ it, and things of that nature. And then we decided to take a turn at relationship stage, and we had to flip to Robin.
“I haven’t seen her father like….like….he was there for the delivery. But then I haven’t seen him since then.
“I’m just going to try to raise Robin to the best of my abilities, and….just keep trying to teach her I love her, the best way I can.
(NATASHA AND ROBIN INTERACT: “Yeah, you got the comb, girlfriend….you got the comb? Oooh, comb your hair! (ROBIN COOS, BABBLES….)
“I started working at Taco Bell about two months ago. Like, I’ll run the drive through…..
INTERCOM: “....a Mexican pizza, and a double-decker taco…any taco sauce or anything to drink for you today?”
“...or run a different cashier. An average month I make $625. Almost 75 percent of that goes to Robin and the bills, because she has daycare costs, and diapers and wipes. And her always growing out of her clothes. I barely have anything for myself, I’ll probably buy myself maybe a stick of gum. (LAUGHS)
“A lot of times I feel judged by people that’s in the same class as I, like I may work at a minimum wage...but they’re making maybe, like, $9.00, which isn’t too much of a step up, but somehow they feel like just because they make just a little bit more than I do, they feel like they’re doing so much better than anybody, yet at the end of the day, we’re all still struggling.
“At Gunning Recreation, I volunteer with a lot of different stuff, I’ll either work with the seniors. I’ll play ping-pong…. I’ve a lot of my friends here. Kinda giving back to my community, think it’s quite important because…you just show that you do actually care.
“I’ve been looking at classes at Tri-C. I want to be a defense lawyer. I spoke to a representative, she had came to Gunning Recreation. She just told me to like, give her a call, when my schedule’s really free.
“In 10 to 20 years, I see myself being well-established, and owning and opening like a shelter for women. Because I was in that situation, I always love to give back. And I’m all about helping the next woman get to her next level.”