Moieyon Smith is a single mom who will do anything for her daughter Autumn. Since her birth four years ago, Smith has done everything she can to ensure a good life for the both of them, including "putting the pride to the side," she said.
Smith's daughter was born four months early and weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces. She was in a neonatal intensive care unit for five months.
"She's my miracle baby," Smith said.
Autumn had myriad complications, including Hirschsprung disease, a congenital condition that affects nerve cells in the large intestine. She had to have surgery to correct the problem.
Smith noted she had always worked in the fast-food industry, but it had become clear to her that she had to stay at home to support her daughter.
She relies on her daughter's disability check to pay the bills, but she began having car trouble, which caused her to fall behind on the rent.
"We were just having life problems. A lot happened at once. There was just so much going on that the check wouldn't cover everything," Smith said.
Smith called 211, the national help hotline that helps connect people with different social services. Through that, she was connected with Day and Overnight Shelters Case Manager Kathleen Wright at Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga, where it was determined that the Neediest Cases Fund could pay the $345 in back rent for Smith.
"To have to ask for help, it made me feel like I was a failure at first, but my eyes have been opened. I am grateful for all of it. If you need help, there is help out there. You just need to put the pride to the side," Smith said.
"I think Neediest Cases is important because, when you do get into a bind, you might not be in a position where your check is going to be able to take care of it. It is good to have somewhere to turn to, and to get funds," Wright said.
Adolph Ochs, publisher of the New York Times and the Chattanooga Times, started the Neediest Cases Fund in 1914. It helps people with one-time donations to get them back on their feet. The United Way of Greater Chattanooga manages the fund.
"It helped me get my situation taken care of," Smith said. "It was a really good experience. It's great what the charities do, that they are able to help people who are truly in need. I feel good about the future. It's good to know that the help was there when it was needed."
Since then, Smith's mom has moved in with her, which she said has lifted a big burden off both their shoulders.
Smith also has been able to focus on her future. After deciding to stay home with Autumn, she got her GED certificate and is now attending Miller-Motte Technical College in Chattanooga as a student in the medical clinical assistant program. She is about to start her third term and graduates next year.
"I have all A's in all of my classes so far. I have a 4.0. I never thought I would have what it takes to go to school. I want to give my daughter a better life, so I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am loving it. I am excited for my future," Smith said.
Autumn is doing well, too.
"She still has some of her health issues, but overall Autumn is doing great. We've definitely had our journey. She is the reason that I push forward every day for a better life," Smith said.
Donations to the Neediest Cases Fund are being accepted through December and can be made online at timesfreepress.com/neediestcases.
Contact Rebecca Hazen at email@example.com.