My name is Marcia Denise Smith. I suffer from a variety of skin conditions called eczema, allergies, and asthma. Basically I couldn’t function at work if I became allergic to something. I’m very hyper-sensitive to certain things. So, I worked as an office assistant. I worked at several jobs as a computer operator and I did a lot of tutoring, and I went to school as well. In the process, medications sometimes were so strong that I couldn’t function.
So as my condition started to break down, I got worse. My income dropped, and when your income drops, if you’re used to living on a $1,200 rent and a car note of $300 and it dropped down to $700 a month, you have to restructure your life with three kids and being a single parent, and it’s very hard.
More than 15 years ago, I had to learn how to be very resourceful. You know, I had lost almost everything and I had three little kids, so I had to learn how to provide for them using the resources available at the time: shelters, food closets, transportation assistance to medical. So, it was very hard to try to understand the process and work it and being sick at the same time.
So, it took me almost six months to a year to build up how to take care of myself, but the food was there and that helped a lot.
You know, when you have a chronic illness, it can be debilitating. You cannot function sometimes, and people who’ve never been in your shoes can’t understand. It takes away from you, you know? People look at you differently, and they don’t know. I don’t like handouts, but I’m here. I suffer just like everybody else.
"When your income drops down to $700 a month, you have to restructure your life with 3 kids."
- Marcia Smith