CINCINNATI (August 31, 2022) — April Austin yearns for financial stability. She wants the best life possible for her four children living at home, ages 16, 9, 8 and 2.
The 37-year-old dreams of one day operating a mobile salon. She recently renewed her cosmetology license with help from United Way’s Project Lift, which paid for her training. She has participated in an entrepreneurship program offered by a United Way partner agency. She owns a van, although it is not equipped with the needed equipment and supplies.
But getting a mobile salon up and running is only one of her challenges. Her family was homeless for more than two weeks last fall. The lease on their current home has expired and they are struggling to find housing.
Health issues have drained April’s finances. One daughter needed surgery. Another daughter was diagnosed with heart abnormalities. And, COVID-19 hit April hard. She also suffers from pain caused by fibromyalgia.
For much of her life, April worked in a child care setting. Now, when she can, she cleans houses with her godmother. Holding a job with regular hours is difficult because her children’s school schedules differ due to their age differences. And when one gets sick, April must stay home. She has no family members she can turn to for help.
She believes the social-service system often does not meet the needs of people like her. “There are so many requirements you have to meet to get help, and what if you don’t meet those requirements?” she says.
She remains hopeful that the mobile salon will become a reality. She says she would sometimes offer her salon services free to less fortunate people, to lift their spirits. Primarily, though, the salon would generate income she needs to provide for her children.
“I want them to have so much better than what I had growing up, and better than what I’ve been able to provide for them.”
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization [Tax ID: 31-0537502]. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.