Living wage, livable future: Abbotsford mother carves a path out of poverty with a living wage

Published On May 16th 2017

Krystal nearly lost her son Nollan every year for the first four years of his young life.

To know that I could support my family in a way I’d never been able to, I had to do it.

~ Krystal, on deciding to pursue her dream of nursing

“Nollan has stage four chronic kidney disease with polyuria. His current kidney function is only 34%,” she explained.

For years, while watching her child suffer through chronic illness, Krystal longed to be a nurse. But between caring for her young family on her own and working long hours for minimum wage, going back to school didn’t seem possible. By the time Nollan was four, exhaustion, escalating stress levels, and the inability to make ends meet culminated. Krystal knew she needed to make a change.

Krystal had been visiting the Abbotsford Food Bank for nearly two years when she connected with the Everest Program, a pilot project designed to assist people in finding life resources beyond emergency food support. Through Everest, Krystal was able to determine what she needed to finally achieve her dream of being a nurse. While it wasn't easy, and with many sacrifices along the way, Krystal was determined to change paths. “To know that I could support my family in a way I’d never been able to, I had to do it," she recalled.

nollan.jpg

Above: Nollan is all smiles.

Sadly, experiences like Krystal’s are not unique. More and more, Abbotsford families are ensnared in poverty: entering into the workforce and making every effort but still struggling to get by. These families are the working poor, tirelessly working to break the cycle of poverty for themselves, their families, and their communities. With a living wage, working people can stay above the poverty line while meeting their basic needs without having to use income assistance programs. Currently, the living wage for the Fraser Valley equals $15.90 an hour – a wage many in Abbotsford struggle to earn.

“Life before making a living wage was quite difficult,” Krystal said, “I could only ever get a low-paying job. It barely paid rent, let alone bills, groceries, and anything else kids need.” She added it was tough giving up a full-time job to go to school – but the reality of supporting her family on $10.85 an hour simply wasn’t feasible. Now a nurse and earning above the living wage threshold, Krystal can provide for her family, giving her youngest the care he desperately needs.

Abbotsford Community Services actively works to reduce poverty and homelessness in our community and we believe every step toward providing and earning a living wage is important. We can all work together to understand poverty and how to alleviate it in our communities. Learn more about the importance of a living wage at: www.abbotsfordcommunityservices.com/livingwage

Read this story in the Abbotsford News.