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A Complicated Life: Tools to survive

Yolanda’s resolve is being tested.

She did not receive her monthly Illinois Link Card benefits last October. The Link program provides needy families with cash and food stamp benefits electronically, which are accessed via the card,according to the Illinois Department of Human Services Web site.

Will Atwater/Jalen,9, left, D’Azit,2, center, and Janae,8, color together at the kitchen table in their southwest Champaign rental home

A Complicated Life: First steps

Of her hardships, worrying about her children’s welfare is the toughest. 

“Being on the street, being homeless, having to ask someone ‘could you feed my kids?’ Not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, or [what] the next day after that is going to bring.”

Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis

A Complicated Life: Turning point

Around 1998 Yolanda developed a relationship with Izear Davis, whom she married and had two children with.

But complications continued for her.

Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis prepares a meal as Janae looks on in the kitchen of her rental home in southwest Champaign.

A Complicated Life: Rebellious past

While living in Evanston Yolanda met Anthony Foster at Fleetwood Jordan Park, which was near where they both lived. They spent time talking and playing basketball at the park and became close, she said.

Soon Yolanda was pregnant with her first child. She was put in touch with a person who gave refuge to teenage mothers and was invited to live in the woman’s home with her newborn, she said.

Will Atwater/ Yolanda Davis, center, poses with Jalen,9, and Janae, 8.

A Complicated Life: Lessons in love

Born Dec. 16, 1975, Yolanda lived with her mother and two sisters on  Chicago’s Southside. As a young girl, she remembers frequent altercations with her mother that grew worse as she grew older. Yolanda finally decided to leave home as a young teenager.

“I emancipated myself when I was 14 from my mom’s care,” she said. “She used to beat me for no apparent reason. I would never leave my kids with her if she was alive. I loved her because that was my mom. But me calling her mom, I could never do that. I would call her by her name or her nickname. That was not my mother. That couldn’t have been the woman that put me on this earth.”

Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis, right, Janae, 8, share a moment together in their southwest Champaign home

A Complicated Life: A better future

Nov. 30, 2009 - The sound of explosives and automatic machine gun fire spilling from the TV doesn’t seem to bother a snoring two-year-old D’aizit who sleeps at one end of the couch.

But at the other end, Nicole Martin, a staff member of the Champaign County Urban and Regional Planning office’s No Limits Program, seems distracted as she attempts to get through to First Call for Help, a family service agency that acts as an information referral program.

Will Atwater/ Yolanda Davis, left, shares a light moment with her kids (from left, D’Azit, 2; Jalen, 9; Janae, 8) recently in their southwest Champaign rental home.

A Complicated Life: One woman's optimistic journey through poverty and strife

CHAMPAIGN -- Yolanda Davis is no stranger to complications; with an estimated monthly income that ranges from $600 to $800, she is among the more than 32,000 Champaign County residents who live at or below the poverty line, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November 2009.

The report also states that poverty rates for Champaign County in 2008 rose to 18.7 percent, up from the 2007 rate of 18.2 percent. This series follows Champaign resident Yolanda Davis as she juggles three children, school and a life on less than $26 a day. Produced by University of Illinois Journalism Graduate Student Will Atwater.

Will Atwater/ Yolanda Davis, left, with her children, pose for a photo recently in their southwest Champaign rental home.

Q + A: Dr. David Adcock, director of Urbana Adult Education

Dr. David Adcock, director of Urbana Adult Education, located at 211 N. Race St. in Urbana, sat down to discuss the center and some of the educational opportunities offered there.

Q: In addition to the General Educational Development (GED) preparation course, the Adult Performance Level (APL) course also offers students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma. Can you discuss this program?


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