Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Thu, 27 Jul 2000 23:21:04 -0700

>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 18:42:57 -0700
>To: coh@sfo.com
>From: "Coalition on Homelessness, SF" <coh@sfo.com>
>wm@videoactivism.org, Homewardnews@geocities.com, 
>gnn@grassrootsnews.org, sfzcoutreach@yahoo.com, 
>homelessworld@blazingstar.org, NHhomeless@egroups.com, 
>dwellej@aol.com, poormag@sirius.com, editor@sfbayview.com, 
>spirit@afsc.org, malin.speace@situationstockholm.se, 
>steve@unite-to-fight.org, rggoudy@pathlink.com, vandu@vcn.bc.ca, 
>Before I started working at the Coalition on Homelessness' Family 
>Rights and Dignity project, I was a single mother on welfare with 
>two sons ages 10 and 5 and living in San Francisco. I hated my life 
>and felt worthless and inadequate. These feelings stemmed from 
>situations that happened to me as a child and as a single mom on 
>By 1997, I had been on welfare for seven years and had little hope 
>of changing my circumstances. Nevertheless, the then-director of 
>Family Rights and Dignity encouraged me to become an intern at FRD. 
>I accepted her offer, and then I got off welfare. I couldn't wait to 
>tell my social worker that I no longer needed her services.
>The supposed purpose of welfare reform was to make sure welfare 
>recipients had secure, full-time, living wage jobs with benefits so 
>that families would no longer need welfare - instead we have 
>families working harder and longer hours and eating less. While I 
>had a desire to finish my degree at San Francisco State University 
>to become a teacher, I just didn't think someone like me could have 
>such a goal. A year passed and the internship turned into a 
>part-time job.
>Over the past 3 years, my self-esteem has grown to the point that I 
>have continued to interview current and former CalWorks recipients, 
>educate and advocate for parents about the current welfare laws and 
>how they are impacting parents and children. I have a deep passion 
>for the victims of welfare reform laws. I know first hand how it is 
>to struggle as a single mother, and how the system takes its toll on 
>families. I believe the welfare system had many problems, but I 
>don't believe politicians who were making these laws knew (or cared) 
>what effect it would have on poor families on welfare. It doesn't 
>matter if you are poor, what matters is our character and how we 
>treat people and how we advocate for ourselves when we feel an 
>injustice is being done.
>I came to Family Rights and Dignity as a scared mom - afraid of the 
>welfare system - with two associate's degrees, and I felt 
>demoralized and paralyzed by the welfare system. Exiting the welfare 
>system in 1997, getting a job as an advocate, and giving back to the 
>community the way Family Rights and Dignity is able to do has 
>empowered me. I believe one person can make a difference, and I was 
>able to turn poison into medicine. I was once on welfare but I now 
>have an opportunity to assist parents who were as afraid as I was, 
>and to help them empower themselves. I firmly believe that children 
>are our future and when we help parents, we are really helping their 
>Jackie Henderson

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639