Melissa Agnew and her family were on the brink, but help found its way to them
She didn’t want to ask for help. All her life, Melissa Agnew promised herself if she ever had kids, she would give them a better childhood than the one she had, that they wouldn’t know poverty like she did, that they wouldn’t have to wonder, like she did, whether their father had spent the rent money on addiction.
Agnew believed she had left all that back in her hometown of New Haven, Conn., when she packed up with her two-year-old daughter in 1991 and moved to Charlotte, land of warmer weather and hope. A friend who’d relocated to the area suggested the city to her.
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Tonya Dirkse was, in her own words, at her breaking point.
Recently divorced with no job, she was having trouble making ends meet and was hesitant to ask for help. Then her sister mentioned that she might qualify for social services assistance, saying that it would be “a hand-up not a hand-out.”