My name is Chelsea Smith. I am 33 and the mother of five children, ages 14, 8, 7, 2 and 1 — four boys and one girl — Khalil, Nichole, Andrew, Nicho and Ayden.
If you’re wondering, the answer is yes — they are a handful. Being home with them through this strange experience has been eventful — and tiring, exhausting, nerve-wracking, with some wonderful thrown in too.
I lost my job as an administrative assistant just as the COVID-19 pandemic started. I’ve been looking for a job since. I’m happy to say that the reason I’m not here with you today is that I found a new job that I started this week! I am so grateful to be working again.
For the record, I am ALICE. Trying to make ends meet with my crew has been a challenge. Just keeping them all fed is tough. Fortunately, my kids all love Ramen noodles. Honestly, that helps. I mix up the menu, but they would eat Ramen noodles for every meal if I let them.
My older kids help with the younger ones. They go outside. They watch tv. Two weeks ago, my seven and eight-year-olds started working on their reading with some workbooks to get ready to go back to school.
If you’re curious, with the stimulus and unemployment, I was making more than I had been when I was working full-time. I also get child support. I have to pay my rent, electricity, car note, car insurance, cell phone bill, student loans and some past bills that we are working on to get in good standing.
I’ve also saved a little bit here and there; thanks to the work I’ve done with my financial counselor. She’s helping me get on track and get a better credit score so that eventually, I can achieve my ultimate goal — home ownership. Anywhere we are is home, but I want a place that belongs to me. One of my dreams is to decorate the home that I own.
In the first month I worked with Florence, she helped me improve my credit score by 75 points. I make my financial decisions carefully, but that means making some difficult choices. For example, before everything changed, my seven and eight-year-old were in football and cheerleading. They were happy. They loved it. Andrew was playing football and Nicole was cheering him on. There were uniform fees that I couldn’t pay — and at the same time we were about to get evicted from the apartment where we were living. Someone offered to pay their fees so they could be a part of the teams. I went ahead and used the money offered to pay the fees so my kids could stay involved with something they both loved. We left the apartment to find a new home.
Sometimes people ask me where do I get my strength. The answer is easy. I get it from my mom and my grandmother. My mom is one of the toughest people I know. Now, I am doing my best to realize my own strength so my kids will one day be able to say the same thing.