Sonjia is a single mom of a 10 year old boy, and works full time for the MBTA as a bus driver.  She is the sole provider for her son, as his dad suffered a stroke and is unable to work or contribute financially.  Last summer she looked into various summer programs for her son to attend, but found that they were all simply too unaffordable.  Sonjia’s income is just high enough to put her over the threshold that she does not receive any government assistance, but she still struggles to make ends meet.  Unable to find any affordable childcare options, she started bringing her son to work with her.  He spent his first few weeks of the summer riding on his mom’s bus, for her entire shift.

In a last-ditch effort, Sonjia reached out to the Y for help.  When the Y team learned of her circumstances, they did not hesitate to go above and beyond to immediately find a place for her son in camp.  No child should have to spend their summer days sitting on a bus so their parent can work- so the Y awarded Sonjia’s son a scholarship to attend Camp Eastman for the remainder of the summer!  “This generosity  has meant the world to both of us.  I could go to work knowing that my son was safe, happy, and enjoying his summer.  When my son attended the YMCA program last summer, he had an amazing time developing new friendships, learning new things and interacting with the warmth of the staff,” Sonjia says.  “To know there is help out there, an organization such as the YMCA that genuinely cares about the health and welfare of children, and that no one is left behind to fall between the cracks is amazing.”

Sonjia continues, “Being a single parent is not easy.  I never thought it would be so impossible to raise a child alone…I need to show my son that through hard work and sheer determination there are wonderful people and organizations like the YMCA that will assist you in climbing this mountain so you can succeed and maintain- because failure is so easy, to give up is so easy, but in our house it’s not an option!”

She describes her struggles last year, “He has seen my hurt, pain, and tears as I wondered if I can make it to work tomorrow because I had no one to watch him, or in fear that my job was now in jeopardy, or if my check would be short now, and no child should ever have to experience that.  The Y helped us when no one else would!”  Sonjia also reports that her son has continually mentioned that he can’t wait to attend Camp Eastman again next year.  The Y staff are certainly looking forward to seeing him again this summer as well!”

Sonjia was so touched by the kindness of the YMCA she offered to be our impact speaker and share her story at the annual Y Champion Celebration on May 23rd 2019 at Lynn Vocational Technical High School.  The Y is grateful to Sonjia for telling her story and looking forward to welcoming her son back to Camp Eastman this season!