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By Kathy Hanks The HutchinsonNews

Rebecca Call gripped the giant sign as if she was trying to keepthe mast of a sail boat from blowing out to sea.

Despite robust winds, she was glad to be standing where she wasat the corner of K-61 and 17th Avenue holding the board that announced "HugeInventory Blowout" for Sears' going out of business sale.

After all, she was out of work, so being paid $8 an hour to workfive hours, several days a week bringing in money she desperately needed was likemanna.

In recent days she quit her job at the Chinese Kitchen atDillon's Market Place where she had worked part time for the past four months,adding extra hours when ever they were available. She had been warned she wouldbe fired once the boss returned. Customers complained one too many timesco-workers said. She felt like she was being targeted so without thinking itthrough she told them she'd do them a favor and just quit.

Call knows it was an impulsive act. Now more than ever she needsan income because her food stamps were cut Jan. 1. Up until this fall she wasreceiving $200 a month, and then in October it was cut to $189, before beingtotally cut off Jan.1 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"They said it was because I was making too much money," Callsaid. "But, that's not true. They looked at my gross pay but that's not what Iwas bringing home." 

She was being paid $7.45 an hour job. In reality her take home,after child support, was $137.

  Call is trying to make a clean break from the past four years of drugaddiction. She met her fiance, Pat Mahoney, through a drug dealer.

Together they have come from what she describes as "a very darkplace."

"I lost my house, my job, my kids, everything went downhill," shesaid, during her time of addiction.

The mother of four children, the 38-year-old is also agrandmother.  Her daughters were takenaway from her and back child support was drawn from her paycheck for one of thechildren's dad. Another daughter, 20 year-old Tea West, is on her own and alsoa mother of a son being raised by the father. Another daughter has been adopted.

She and Mahoney moved to a small apartment at Fox Run Dec. 30,after four months of living at New Beginnings transitional housing.

"We were bound and determined to get on our feet," said Call. Nowthey are paying $180 a month for the furnished apartment, as they transitionfurther into one day renting their own place. 

On Feb.8 Call will be drug free one year.  For four years she had been an I.V. drug user.

"I self medicated on meth," she said. "The drugs were killingme."

 Some days death seemedlike the only option and she tried to commit suicide.

She realized she couldn't stoop any lower, nor could Mahoney, whowas faced with drug court, and already had a criminal record.

"The main thing helping me out is my kids," said Mahoney.  He stays clean for two children.  It also helps to have Rebecca by his side.

"She's my woman, she sticks with me," he said.

 He is currently workingwith a counselor in the Kansas Department of Children and Families' vocationalrehabilitation program, who is helping him prepare for work.

Call is proud there has been no backsliding into the previouslife, which she says was evil. She's proud to be back to her Christian faithand has been baptized, and is now accountable to her Celebrate Recovery groupat CrossPoint Church. And she's equally pleased thatMahoney is now a Christian.

That's all the good news. But some days the challenges areoverwhelming. Like trying to find work

"I'm gruff and I'm loud," she said. "That's my personality. I'mbi-polar and you never know what will happen."

For now she can't afford her prescription medications, butthankfully because of the sign holding job they can pay their rent.

By late January they were out of money and food stamps and headedto the Reno County Food Bank.

If food stamps were cut completely, Mahoney said he would do whateverwas necessary to feed his children.

"I guarantee you if food stamps are cut, crime will go up,"Mahoney said.

Meanwhile Call says they are lucky they can hold the signs andget paid.

"That gives us another month to get money."

By then hopefully she will have a job. She says she will put in110 percent with her work.

"If you show me how to do it, I can do it," she said. "Right nowI have to do all I can to survive."

 

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