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When just working hard isn’t working.

Meet the Fretz Family

Quakertown, Pa.

On rainy Saturdays, Brie Fretz and her four kids have a tradition: staying in their pajamas, putting the couch cushions on the living room floor, and, while they don’t have cable, watching movies on DVD.

“We have tight quarters here,” Brie says of the two-bedroom house she shares with her children, who range in age from two to 14. “But we laugh a lot and make it work.”

Like many divorced moms with minimum-wage jobs, Brie worries about finances. She participated in a self-sufficiency program that connected her with a financial planner, helped her set budgets and began to develop strategy for her future.

“When I was married, my husband worked at PennDOT, I put my career – everything – on hold,” Brie explains. “But now here I am on my own, barely making it. At the health care company where I work, I can’t really advance any further without a degree. I have to do something to create a better life for my kids, so I enrolled in college.”

Brie is working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing administration with a certificate in long-term care. “I really like what I do, and I like going to work every day, helping people. That’s why I want to stay in this field, and one day, be someone else’s boss,” she says.

To make ends meet, Brie relies on medical assistance for her children and food stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) to augment her grocery budget. “Have you ever tried feeding a 14-year-old boy?” she asks. When a roof leak caused her ceiling to collapse, the self-sufficiency program connected Brie with the Bucks County Department of Housing Rehabilitation Program for repairs.

Brie has also been trying to manage a health setback; she was recently diagnosed with Lupus. Still, she considers her family lucky. “I am working hard to make sure the bills are paid, there’s food in the fridge and my kids are healthy. It’s a struggle, and there are constant trade-offs. But we’ll get there.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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