Voices of Everyday Leaders

by Tomicka Robinson | December 5, 2018 7:03 pm

Roquesha Oneal is an everyday leader, a woman of fortitude and generosity. She resides in Detroit with her 15-year-old child with a disability and enjoys visits with her two adult children. Her two grandbabies who are the lights of her life. She’s a family-oriented individual that attempts to support others despite her financial difficulties. She’s a rock for her community because of her kind spirit and fiery personality. Even with her hustling to make ends meet as a organizer, with Parents Education Alliance, she still needs assistance. Even more so with Christmas approaching.  Luckily, benefits designed to help such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, allow for some relief when it comes to participating in holiday festivities. This shouldn’t be for a select few but for everyone because we all deserve a basic nutrition. SNAP is designed to offer a lifeline until people can get back to a place of financial independence. This is Roquesha’s story:

Changewire: Have you had SNAP benefits during the holiday season before? If so, does it allow you to participate in holiday festivities?

Roquesha: Yes but this year was very different. My benefits got cut off due to neglect of a caseworker. She was out on sick leave and no one handled her caseload…so when it was time for me to get my SNAP benefits, I was cut off on November 19th, with no notice.

Changewire: How much money did you expect to receive? Would that amount actually feed your entire family?

Roquesha: I received $211 each month and no, I have to add cash because everything is so expensive in my neighborhood grocery store.

Changewire: Are you grateful to have SNAP during the holiday season and if so why?

Roquesha: Yes, I’m truly grateful to SNAP benefits because it helps me feed my family. I’m also able to give back to others invite them to have a meal with us.

Changewire: Since you were denied your benefits recently, how did that impact you and your family?

Roquesha: I wasn’t able to cook for Thanksgiving and it greatly impacted my family because being the head of the family you’re expected to keep it together.

Changewire: Do you believe SNAP is helpful in getting recipients back to a place of financial stability?

Roquesha: Yes and no. It depends on who’s assisting you because it can be a catch 22. One who serves you can also give you resources but you also can have a worker who causes you mental pain and won’t even take the time to answer the phone.

Changewire: How do you advocate for the protection of SNAP?

Roquesha: I advocate by searching for resources and also working with organizations such as Mothering Justice and Good Jobs Now. I also call and write my local officials.

Changewire: What gift would you give someone less fortunate than you… that you think would positively change their life?

Roquesha: I’d give them all housing, food for a lifetime but the best gift I could give is the gift of knowledge and a voice to speak up for change.

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