Melissa works as a family advocate. A job she says she always wanted, because because she “wanted to be able to help people every day.”
But before she finished her degree, she lived paycheck to paycheck, not knowing if she would be able to pay the next round of bills. She and her children lived with her mom so she could go back to school, but her car was dying, jeopardizing her education – and her future livelihood.
Fortunately, the boost she received from the federal Earned Income Tax Credit helped her buy a 12 year old van that got her to school and her kids to day care so she could go to classes.
Unfortunately, as she was close to finishing her degree a few years later, her federal PELL grants dried up. She had just one class left to graduate. One class stood between Melissa and getting out in the world with a career. She longed for the steady income that would allow her to make sure her kids had $5 for the dance after school, or a few bucks to buy a book on the special field trip they earned by being a top reader in the 5th grade.
Melissa says that these were the kinds of things she wasn’t able to always give her children before. But, she was able to pay for her last class using her EITC refund.
Now, she works to help other families, providing “a hand up, not a hand out, help for today and hope for tomorrow.” Just like the EITC.