The Winner of $500 University Scholarship 2020
If you suddenly had to live at the National Poverty Level of income, for the foreseeable future, what changes to your current life would you make? Give extensive descriptive details on what would change and why you feel the changes you would make would work for you to succeed.

Name of Winner: Kayla Douglas

Winning Essay:

I have had to live at the National Poverty Level of income many times in my life. Most of these instances happened while I lived in the state of California. As a young adult and a young mother it was almost impossible to survive. Today I am finally living in Oregon and for the first time in my life I have financial stability. For the first time in my life I am able to afford little luxuries that I used to deny myself and my family simply because we could not afford them. Some people don't know what it's like to struggle financially, to really truly struggle financially. I have been down that road, and it is hard and rough, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. If i was faced with those same circumstances today I would start cutting out anything from our budget that we could spare. I would prepare to make any and all sacrifices necessary to be able to afford our cost of living. I know that my first priority would be to find a new steady form of employment so that I could attempt to generate more income. I would start by cancelling all of our streaming services and I would sell all of our gently used DVD’s to a store that would be able to resell them. I would change our grocery budget and I would make sure that I was making meals that cost less to prepare. I would also apply for assistance such as food stamps/SNAP food benefits, to ensure that I had financial assistance to keep my family fed. I would eat all of my meals at home, and meal prep snacks to ensure that I was not spending money eating out at restaurants whatsoever. We might also have to look into local food banks or local churches offering food boxes to the community. I would also speak with members of my local churches to see if there would be any assistance available to us that they could offer. I would also be forced to sell some of my family heirlooms such as jewelry and furniture. I would need to make sure that we were cutting down on utility use, to save money on monthly bills. I may also have to move into a smaller apartment so that I would be able to afford the rent, or even possibly move back to California to live with my mother. I would do anything that it would take to keep us happy and comfortable. Most people don't know that a great resource is right at their fingertips. You can dial 211 on your phone, this will connect you to a federal phone database that can offer information on resources available from private and public health and human service agencies. This service is available in every state in the country. You can find resources for finding food, clothing banks, local shelters, rent assistance and utility assistance. You can find resources for work support that offer help with transportation assistance, and job training. There is also information available regarding childcare and after-school programs. All of this information is available for low income families in need. Luckily in times of trouble, I learned to adapt and how to be resourceful. I learned that you will do anything that it takes to pay your bills and to not fall behind. If I was stuck in a situation that led me to live at the National Poverty Level of income, I would start making adjustments to my lifestyle as quickly as possible. I recommend that if anyone finds themselves in a time of need that they reach out to their community to see what types of assistance might be available to them. It will be important for anyone in that situation to make sure that they are not living beyond their means. It will be essential to your financial situation to give up any and all frivolous spending that you can. It is important to not buy anything that you do not need, and to keep to a strict budget based on your limited income. If you can follow these steps when or if you find yourself in this situation, you will be much better off and on the road to a better tomorrow.