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    Posted November 12, 2013 by
    Related to: Change the List: income inequality
    Columnist John Sutter is trying to bring hope to places that need it most -- with your help. You voted on the social justice issues he'll cover this year.
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    My income makes me feel …

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    My Income Makes Me Feel...


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Bellydancer lost her job in 2008 and it wasn’t until 2010 that she found a permanent job. Even though she was making $5.00 less per hour doing the same type of work, the Columbus, Ohio, resident felt like she had to take the offer. She is a dental billing representative. “Many people that were hit with unemployment in 2008 lost homes, experienced many hardships just as I did,” she said. “Many have never fully recovered. I feel like I had been given a chance to turn it around for myself. I will always be grateful.”
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    My income makes me feel grateful.


    I lost my job in 2008. I was unable to secure Full Time, employment until a Temp position turned into a Permanent one. When offered the position I accepted the initial salary offer right away. I didn't bother to counter offer even though the pay was more than $5.00 less per hour than I had been making doing the same type of work in a smaller setting. I felt I had to take this offer, no question.


    I am glad I did. While the hourly salary is less, the benefits provided are substantial. I felt fortunate to be part of the organization - I still feel that way. In fact, I feel this job has literally saved my life in ways. Not only am I happier, I am on my way to being healthier.


    Less than two weeks after my health insurance took effect I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Unemployment had taken a toll on my health. Lacking insurance I could not afford to see a doctor. Fortunately, my new employer offers excellent but affordable insurance. R.A. is progressive and crippling - I will be in treatment for the rest of my life. I will begin Infusion Therapy soon and it is expensive. The medications I currently take are as well.


    I cannot spend time lamenting the reduced income. I suppose I would feel differently if I didn't work for such a great organization. But I am fortunate and I know it. Despite having to forgo certain things I can at least now see a path forward for myself. I have no savings to speak of and I do worry about the future. But I feel more optimistic than I have in years - even before 2008.


    Income disparity is a real issue. My story may reflect many positives but I know that if I still had children at home to raise, feed and educate I could not do it without some form of assistance. Food stamps, Medicaid coverage on the kids, rent subsidies,daycare are all things I would need even though I work full time in a professional setting. Incomes have gone down but everyday costs go up and up. There needs to be some balance. I cannot fathom how minimum wage earning people manage.


    Yes, I am grateful.

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