Dwanna Boyd admits that she hasn’t always made the best choices.
In her late 20s, she had a son out of wedlock and has not completed her college education.
“Everyone has made poor choices,” she said, “and I have learned that things follow you, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve an opportunity to do better.”
Currently, Boyd, 28, lives with her 57-year-old mother, Cheryl Pray.
Together they raise her son DeAndre.
“I don’t have no complaints when it comes to helping my daughter or my grandson, I just do what has to be done to help support them,” Pray said.
But Pray also believes that if Boyd, who has been unemployed for nearly nine months, could get some job-assistance training from the Department of Family and Children Services, she and her daughter could get some much needed financial relief.
“People on assistance, who aren’t really trying to work, they can get all the help they need, and she can’t get none,” Pray said. “I just think it’s a shame.”
In 2001, Boyd worked as a school bus driver for the
Liberty County Board ofEducation. When she took a second job this year working as a hotel clerk at night, she was released by the board due to scheduling conflicts.
Two days later, Boyd lost her job at the hotel due to a customer complaint and since then she has not been able to find work. She said DFACS would not assist her with job training support because she does not receive food stamps or temporary assistance for needy families.
“I try to encourage her,” Pray said. “... But she gets depressed sometimes and she wonders why things aren’t working out for her. It’s not like she doesn’t want to work or go to school, she’s just made some mistakes along the way.”
Attempts by the Courier to contact the DFACS for a reply to Boyd and Pray’s claims were unsuccessful.
Sarahlyn Argrow hears stories like Boyd’s and Pray’s every day.
As founder of Savannah’s A Working Woman In Need, a nonprofit organization that assists single working women, Argrow said she receives at least three or four phones calls every day from women looking for help.
She said often she has found that lack of personal accountability and responsibility is to blame for their circumstances.
“What we tell women is that you can’t always blame the system,” she said. “You may have made mistakes ... The question isn’t what have you done, but what are you going to do now? We believe in giving them a hand up and not a hand down.”
Argrow said that is why her organization focuses on helping women break the cycle of financial bondage by giving them tools to be successful.
She said women like Boyd could benefit if state-funded assistance programs were set up the same way.
“There needs to be a change to the way the system is set up,” Argrow said. “There needs to be a system that is capable of showing Mary from A to Z ... and it needs to be more accommodating to women who are working and have some sort of work history. That’s our responsibility as a people.”
Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on one woman’s plight to find work and help from the government to train for a job.