CINCINNATI (October 28, 2022) — It’s not easy for Danielle Cole to talk about her struggles.
“I have a lot of pride,” the 28-year-old says. “I do a lot on my own, so when I have to ask for help, it’s hard.”
Since her divorce three years ago, she has sought help several times. And for good reason. “I make sure he is taken care of,” she says of her only child, 6-year-old Joshua, who is keeping busy with crayons.
The brown-eyed boy holds up the page of a coloring book. “Look how good I’m doing,” he says, his smile revealing the gap where two permanent front teeth are yet to come in. “My mom says I’m the sharpest tool in the shed.”
Danielle works 40 hours a week for a company that makes custom T-shirts and other products. “It’s just not enough,” she says, especially now that inflation has reduced her buying power. “All my money is going to bills. I’m barely surviving. I’d love to get a second job or something to add to my income. But it’s so hard being the only caretaker for (Joshua).”
During the workday, he stays with his great-grandmother. Danielle does not qualify for publicly funded child care.
The past few years, she has utilized a food pantry and a holiday gift program operated by a United Way partner. The partner is also a sponsor organization of United Way’s Project Lift, which taps public and private dollars to remove barriers that prevent families from building a stronger financial foundation.
Project Lift has assisted Danielle in several ways, including utility bills and rent. “The utilities (payments) helped a ton, because I had no idea when I was going to be able to pay them,” she says.
The support from Project Lift helps relieve mental burdens as much as financial ones, Danielle says, noting that her mental well-being hinges on whether she can put food on her table and keep current on rent.
She is proud that since getting her first credit card two years ago, she has remained debt-free and has built an above-average credit score.
“I’ve made really positive and good changes for myself. At the job I have now, I’ve added eight job titles. I try to build my resume as much as I can. I think it’ll help me in the future.”
With Project Lift’s help, she looks toward a future where she achieves financial well-being.
“I just want to make sure (Joshua) is OK,” Danielle says. “That’s my main goal in life.”
Project Lift supports families on their journey to financial stability. Project Lift sponsors listen to each families’ challenges, find ways to leverage resources to assist them with short-term needs – rent, food, child care, utilities, transportation, etc. – and provide an ongoing support system as they work to increase their incomes and build long-term economic well-being.
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.