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low income

A Complicated Life: The road less traveled

In December Yolanda’s public aid benefits were reinstated and though she doesn’t have a job currently, she is still in the No Limits program and continues to meet with Woodard on a regular basis. 

An Ameren IP representative was able to ignite the pilot light and Davis and her family have heat.

Since Jan. 10, Yolanda has been attending adult education classes on a weekly basis and she has also enrolled in Even Start, an educational program for mothers and their children.

 

Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis poses with Jalen,9, and Janae, 8.
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A Complicated Life: Unresolved issues

Davis believes the issues Yolanda had with her late mother are still not resolved.

“The death of her mother plays a big part in [Yolanda’s] life … as far as how she [acts] towards the kids because she does not want to treat [them] they way she was treated,” he said.

Will Atwater/ Yolanda Davis at her southwest Champaign rental home.
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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
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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
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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.
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A Complicated Life: Dark days

As a high school dropout with no job skills, Yolanda moved in with her paternal grandmother, who is now deceased. She struggled to earn money.

Teen mothers are more likely to seek financial support from family or from public assistance and 75 percent of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare within five years of the birth of their first child, according to a March of Dimes study.

Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis, left, and Janae, 8, share a moment together.
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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.
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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
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