Bonita Fain, 2022 Project Lift Participant
John Johnston / United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Project Lift Helps Grandmother Who Strives to Put Family First

United Way’s Project Lift helps families remove barriers similar to Bonita's. The program’s sponsor agencies work with families to provide flexible, tailored, short-term assistance critical to achieving long-term success.
August 29, 2022

CINCINNATI (August 29, 2022) — A large decorative sign on the kitchen wall of Bonita Fain’s Springfield Township home expresses what’s important to her: FAMILY. 

The youngest of her three children had nearly reached adulthood when Bonita was called on to raise two of her grandchildren. Bonita did not have to consider even for a moment whether it was the right thing to do.  

“When the police knocked at the door and had the kids, I just opened the door and let them in,” she says. The boys were ages 3 and 6. Now they are teenagers. The older one will graduate from high school next year. They have no contact with their mother or father, says Bonita, who is 60. 

Bonita sought and was granted custody of the boys. Over the years, she and her husband, Daniel, did their best to provide the support the children needed, including counseling. “I want them to graduate,” Bonita says.  

The family’s challenges multiplied when Daniel became seriously ill. He needed two surgeries for an aortic dissection, a condition in which a tear occurs in the inner layer of the body’s main artery. He is classified as disabled. 

In the midst of it all, “I kind of lost myself,” Bonita says. “I thought about (the boys) and my husband more than I thought about myself.” 

Lacking a high school diploma, her employment options were limited. So, she enrolled in a class to earn a GED certificate. She took the test and failed by a point. She tried again and missed by two points. Then she enrolled in an adult diploma program offered by a high school, and after a week of late-night studying, in February 2020 she earned her diploma.  

She then worked in home health care and at a senior living facility, in each case learning new and different things. That’s important to her. “I want to grow,” she says.  

Eventually a better opportunity arose – a job as a patient registrar for a hospital. But employees must buy their uniforms, which wasn’t in her family’s budget. 

Many hardworking families like Bonita’s are on a path toward financial stability, but something is holding them back. It may be car repairs; lost wages due to a temporary illness; unexpected medical bills. Or it may be something as simple as work uniforms. 

United Way’s Project Lift helps families remove such barriers. The program’s sponsor agencies work with families to provide flexible, tailored, short-term assistance critical to achieving long-term success. 

In Bonita’s case, Project Lift funds were used to pay for her uniforms. “That got me started,” Bonita says, “and I took off from there.” Soon she was able to buy uniforms herself. 

Her family’s financial picture brightened further in May 2022 when Bonita began a new, higher-paying job as a surgery scheduler. 

Bonita’s determination and desire to succeed has been on full display for her grandsons.  

“I’m hoping it inspires them,” she says. “I hope my story inspires somebody to keep leveling up, keep going, don’t stop. And if you need help, ask for help.” 


Learn more about Project Lift at


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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.

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