Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press -- Dec 21, 2010 Angela Bonds, who received money from the Neediest Cases Fund for a doctor's appointment, poses for portraits Tuesday afternoon. The doctor's visit revealed that she has three kidneys.
Angela Bonds got tired of giving up, of thinking the world was against her.
She went back to school in October 2009 to get her general educational development certificate. But she had another setback.
She had to leave the program in May because she was missing too many days going back and forth to the doctor for back pain caused by what turned out to be kidney stones.
On May 6, the 41-year-old mother of four also learned that she has three kidneys.
"I felt like a freak because I had never heard of anyone having three kidneys," she said in a recent interview.
But after talking to her pastor and mother and praying about it, she accepted it, she said.
When Bonds was referred to a urologist for the May 6 appointment, she needed $100 she simply didn't have. She worked for a couple of months at a fast-food restaurant at the beginning of the year but left because of problems with management, she said.
The doctor's appointment was something she really needed but couldn't afford, said Karen Kissinger, her case manager with the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.
"It was pretty crucial because she didn't even know what was going on, she was a little frightened," Kissinger said. "It helped the [doctors] decide where to go with her medical care and they wouldn't have known if they hadn't done these tests."
Bonds is in the New Visions program for the chronically homeless administered by the Partnership.
"It provides clients a more stable environment, a place to live, support from case management services and referrals," Kissinger said.
Bonds has no source of income, Kissinger said, and a relative helps her with day-to-day expenses such as soap and toothpaste.
She often struggles with transportation, and her medical problems have set her back -- at least temporarily -- in her pursuit of education.
Bonds said getting her high school equivalency diploma means a lot to her.
When she was 16 she dropped out of high school because she was pregnant, she said.
"I just want to be able to get that piece of paper; it means a whole lot," she said. "My oldest son got his GED, and that inspired me. He says if he can do it, so could I."
And she's still looking for a job. When she was younger, she wanted to be a certified nurse assistant.
She used to take care of the elderly and really enjoyed it, she said.
"They have so much knowledge," she said.
Bonds will continue studying to get her GED starting Jan. 6, she said with excitement.
In the future she sees herself owning a beauty salon and working with cancer patients or those with alopecia, a condition in which people lose most or all of their hair.
For the past nine years, she has been battling the condition, coming up with what she called "outrageous" hairdos -- for instance, gluing spirals decorated with rhinestones onto her head -- to mask the problem.
But come summer, Bonds is determined not to be ashamed of her baldness.
"I'm tired of hiding it," she said.
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...