“Everything was at risk.”
Angelica Hatchew was having trouble making ends meet while she was on early maternity leave for health reasons from her job at Lyons Industries in Dowagiac. Five months pregnant and with two other children, she was afraid of losing her home. “Everything was at risk,” Angelica says.
“I was at the bottom of the bottom. Not to mention being pregnant comes with its own emotions,” she says. “I felt like a tornado and a hurricane mixed together. I felt like nothing was ever going to work out because I had these two big kids that needed to eat and a place to sleep.”
“As a mother, no matter what, you know that you’re gonna do all that you can for your kids,” she says, but she knew she couldn’t do it alone. She needed someone to be her rock and reassure her that she could make it.
That’s when she met Nancy Miller, a success coach at The LINK, a program at United Way-funded partner Kinexus. “She was my backbone,” Angelica says.
Turn the corner
Kinexus is a Benton Harbor-based nonprofit that develops solutions to economic challenges. Its services benefit the region with three key outcomes: thriving businesses, competitive workforce talent, and clean safe neighborhoods. The group says it is committed to inspiring positive economic change one person, one business, one community at a time. Kinexus created a business resource network called The LINK and recruited Nancy from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“Angelica and I started working on figuring out what it was going to take for her to get by until she could come back to work,” Nancy says. She counseled Angelica, evaluated her situation and informed her of her options. She helped Angelica connect to disability assistance and utility bill extensions. She directed her to mobile food pantries and ways to get her kids school clothes. After Angelica’s son was born, Nancy saw to it that the newborn received medical insurance.
“Now Nancy is assisting my family with day care needs, so I can continue to be a productive employee,” Angelica says. “She helped me through it all because she was right behind me. You did a good job, Nancy—I love you so much.”
Learn more about the work United Way of Southwest Michigan is doing in INCOME at uwsm.org/income.