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Robbing Peter to pay Paul: The uphill journey out of poverty

The uphill journey out of poverty (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local 12 is committed to examining the reasons and solutions behind childhood poverty. Two local mothers shared their stories a year and a half ago and told of the struggles of supporting their families on minimum wage.

Below is the conversation Local 12's Paula Toti had with them a few weeks ago. They believe they are on an uphill journey.

When Local 12 first met Beth Fuentes she said: "I live paycheck to paycheck, working minimum wage is really hard."

Jodi Andrews said that: "I just deal with it, rob Peter to pay Paul."

At that time their biggest financial challenge was getting enough work to pay their bills.

These days, both women in South Lebanon are working a lot.

Beth says "I'd say one check at my new job is like two months of the other one."

Beth is actually still working at a local hospital in registration, but she's working more hours and odd hours like nights and weekends.

That ups her pay $4-$5 an hour. It's been a game changer.

She says "I have more money to do things like getting my daughter a Kings Island pass. she was really happy."

Jodi's kids are also seeing a difference. She was working several jobs but now has one steady job in construction cleaning. The economy has picked up for builders and for her. She says "The builders we work for are building all over, It's good."

She has two children at home and her life partner is also getting more work. He's in landscaping. Jodi says "they're building everywhere and everyone needs pretty flowers."

You might give the economy part of the credit, but both women deserve recognition for their efforts.

Jodi says that a few years back she had a mental turning point and decided not to give up. She's still on a journey. She said, "things could be better." Paula asked, "will they be?" Jodi answered "I have goals. I want to own my own cleaning business. I have some residential on my own now but I want my own construction one day."

Paula asked Beth what she would tell another single mom trying to elevate her family financially, going from struggling to pay bills to buy a few extras like a pass to King's Island.

Beth answered " they have to make sure to set goals. Write them down and look at them every day."

But make no mistake, both women say while they are responsible for their finances, more could be done to give families a hand up.

First on the list is affordable health care. They make too much money for Medicaid and Beth said getting a big boost in income wasn't an automatic home run.

Paula asked Beth if it was scary getting the boost in income? Beth said yes and explained, "I didn't get food stamps, Care Source, now I have to pay for my insurance."

Beth also feels when she looks around there's a lack of affordable housing being built.

Still making more money and losing benefits Beth says she's money ahead of where she was. Also, both women continue to work with "Joshua's Place", a faith-based nonprofit that helps them with things like budgeting.

They are proud of how far they've come.

When Local 12 first met Jodi, she was dreading Christmas. Paula asked about this past Christmas. Jodi said "I'm glad you asked that. Christmas was great at my house this year. I didn't have to ask anybody for help. Paula said "that's huge." Jodi said, "yes, we had a tree, decorations and a huge meal, everything."

Paula asked Beth where she sees herself in a year or ten years from now. She said " ten years from now, living in South Lebanon, a nice house, with a good family. Settled." A year from now she sees herself working at the same job to get a better car.

Jodi sees herself working a year from now to fix a truck she got that should help with her business idea. Jodi said "step out of the box and look at yourself. There's a lot of happiness out there. You need to go get it."

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