Stories: Facing tremendous odds, a mother and her son find a greater quality of life thanks to agency services and counseling

Rhonda hopes her son will not have to face the discrimination that she has faced since she became HIV positive. One important fact that may keep him from having to face that is, he does not have the disease.

“He’s negative,” she says. “Say and do what you want to me, but don’t treat him any differently.”

Rhonda has known of her HIV status since 2002. After she revealed the diagnosis to her family, she noticed an increase in pressure, stress and discrimination. Her immediate family was supportive when they learned of her status, but her son’s father’s family has treated her differently, setting up barriers of distance with her.

“They have tried to say that that’s not it, but from the moment they found out, I could feel that proverbial ten-foot pole,” Rhonda said.

Before her son was born, Rhonda had already enrolled with services at Hope House, one of United Way’s network partner agencies. At that time she was uncertain of her son’s HIV status and she had him added to the waiting list. Her fears were relieved when she learned he was HIV negative. He participates in the agency’s “Little Bears” daycare toddler classes.

Your Support Impacts LivesThis United Way partner agency is the best thing about raising her son in Memphis, Rhonda said.

“I heard about the agency through a case worker and knew immediately that I needed my son to have every opportunity to get ahead in life.”

The agency has provided many services to Rhonda and her son, which she explains has allowed them to have a better quality of life. Since her son is cared for in the agency’s daycare program, Rhonda has been able to search for a job.

“With my son being cared for during the day, that’s one less thing for me to worry about,” Rhonda explained. She recently applied to be a police dispatch operator. She hopes that with a full-time job she will be able to provide her son with what he needs to live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Rhonda’s son is getting much-needed social interaction that he might not receive as an only child. When he graduated from the infant room in the toddler class, he could easily hold his own with the older children. Rhonda believes that through the services offered by this agency her son has developed into the social and friendly child he is today. Rhonda also takes advantages of parenting classes and one-to-one counseling.

Thanks to your contributions to United Way, Rhonda and her son were able to get counseling and childcare services when they needed it most. Rhonda has been helped in dealing with her disease, and according to her, she would not be where she is today without your support of this agency.

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