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Published: Monday, 4/27/2009

FAMILIES COPING

Burdens ease for single mom

Income rises, friends offer assistance

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Shaun Purley plants a kiss on her son, Jordan, before he heads off to the skateboard area at Highland Park. Shaun Purley plants a kiss on her son, Jordan, before he heads off to the skateboard area at Highland Park.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

What a difference 10 hours makes.

When it's 10 more hours of work that pumps up your paycheck, it means ice cream cones on Dollar a Scoop Day, Happy Meals on $1.50 Family Night, a bill that gets paid rather than set aside.

It means an easing of the financial boundaries one has to live within when times are tough.

"It lets us do what we could not do two months ago. There was just no way," said Shaun Purley, 42, of West Toledo.

READ MORE: Poverty Line -- Unraveling the safety net

Over the last month, Ms. Purley has been getting 10 more hours every week at her $12.50-an-hour job as a human resources representative for Homewatch CareGivers. She works five hours a day, Monday through Friday, up from three days a week.

"I don't think [the extra in-come] will change how much I worry about things," said Ms. Purley, who admits she's a worrier by nature. "It changes the way I pay the bills. It changes whether or not we go to a movie, can we eat out, can we relax a little bit."

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Her worry list has been edited recently. No. 1 on that list, the mammogram that was way overdue, has been crossed off.

Her last mammogram had been two years ago, when a small lump was detected. She was told to return for a follow-up exam six months later but did not, because she couldn't afford to pay her share of the bill.

Ms. Purley's story, published in The Blade on March 24, triggered several suggestions about local programs that could help her, including Mercy Health Partners' Mammogram Assistance Program. Known as Mercy MAP, it provides free mammograms to women who meet eligibility requirements.

"They took care of everything," Ms. Purley said. "I had my mammogram and the lump is stable. It hasn't changed at all, and I was very relieved about that."

Someone else stepped up to wipe away another worry: the demise of Ms. Purley's ancient dryer. The single mother of two came home one day and found a working dryer on her porch, a gift from a friend.

Shaun Purley came home one day to find the gift of a clothes dryer. Shaun Purley came home one day to find the gift of a clothes dryer.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"If people know you have a need, and they can help you, they will," she reflected. "That's how we are raised. If your neighbor doesn't have food and you know, you help them. People will pour out of themselves if they know what's needed."

Letting people know what you need can be the hard part. "You have to be willing to open yourself up," Ms. Purley said.

Help comes from the haves and the have-nots alike, from the people who run charities and the people who go to them looking for help.

"When we're standing in line and waiting for them to open the doors, you learn things," Ms. Purley said. "Someone will ask, do you know where I get this? And someone else will say, try this place or that place.

"Reaching out," she said, "is two ways."

Contact Ann Weber at:

aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.



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