Woman dedicated to service amid own struggle

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EDITORS NOTE: Poverty is an equal opportunity offender, touching nearly every demographic group. One group is affected more often: single women who head households.

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Ms. Mickens talks with HPSO clients about services that are offered. She has been a volunteer with the organization since October 2008 and says she is able to serve better because of her own experiences.  Jessica Webb Sibley/Staff
Jessica Webb Sibley/Staff
Ms. Mickens talks with HPSO clients about services that are offered. She has been a volunteer with the organization since October 2008 and says she is able to serve better because of her own experiences.

These households experience the highest poverty rates nationally, in Georgia and South Carolina, and in the three-county Augusta area.

Thursday and today, The Augusta Chronicle profiles some of the women facing poverty and their difficulties, youths who come from these households and what can help decrease the high poverty rate of a city such as Augusta.

Most people would never guess Linda Mickens' financial situation by looking at her.

The 46-year-old Augusta woman is polished, well spoken and volunteers almost full time at Helping People Start Over, a Christian nonprofit organization on Gordon Highway that assists people in need of food, clothing or other services. She has a two-year associate's degree in early childhood care/education and has taken college-level business and psychology classes.

She regularly attends church at New Life Christian Center and is the mother of a teenage daughter, Christian, a high school senior. She also has an adult daughter and two grandchildren.

She's also living at the poverty level. Because of illness and life circumstances, she is unable to work. Her economic problems started six months after her divorce nine years ago, when child-support payments from her ex-husband stopped. She was married for five years, Ms. Mickens said.

"I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. The only thing that stayed current was the rent, to keep from being evicted. The electric was behind one month, gas one month, water -- just kind of keeping things afloat to keep anything from being turned off," Ms. Mickens said.

Things had gotten better for a while, but she's back in the same situation again. She lives in a rented home and uses EBT to provide food for her family. She said that she pays her "bills through blessings," sometimes getting donations from church, people she knows and some she doesn't. God's timing is not our timing, she said, but a day or two before things are due she'll either receive a donation or something works out in her favor.

She receives child-support payments sporadically. Her daughter has a good relationship with her father, but the financial support isn't always there, she said.

"I think he thinks it doesn't matter anymore. I won't say that he has not tried to help out, but to say he's paying child support -- he's not coming close to what they've ordered him to pay," Ms. Mickens said.

Ms. Mickens suffers from migraines that have rendered her unable to work. She is receiving extensive medical testing, and her headaches are so severe that she has the physical symptoms of Bell's palsy, such as paralysis or weakness on one side of her face. Her medicine has added to her difficulties, with side effects such as hallucinations and memory loss. She also has back problems and relies on Medicaid for her medical care.

"I think finding any kind of employment would be difficult because of the medical problems that I'm going through," she said.

She's debating whether to apply for Supplemental Security Income. She said she believes if she did it would be like giving up and accepting that she will never get better. To keep from accepting defeat, she tries to fight through her current situation, she said.

During her marriage, she worked in the public school system as a paraprofessional and later became a substitute teacher. In 2005 she began having migraines that lasted all day, she said.

Two years later she was working as a customer-service rep at a local cable company when she had to go on short-term disability for her migraines. At the same time her daughter became ill and needed surgery to remove a tumor in January 2008. Ms. Mickens needed to stay with her daughter at the hospital, but her employer wanted her to return to work, so she was fired. Since then she has tried unsuccessfully to find a job.

SHE'S VOLUNTEERING to help the same group of people to which she also belongs. Ms. Mickens said she relies on her faith in God for strength. Many days she cries and prays. The situation has both tested and built her faith, she said.

"I had to get to the point of looking at where I was in my walk with the Lord and looking at who my source is. That makes all the difference, even when the times are hard and you don't really see it in the natural, knowing in the spiritual that things will be OK," Ms. Mickens said.

She calls her work at Helping People Start Over her ministry. She has been volunteering with the organization since October 2008. She hopes it might turn into a full-time job, but that's not why she keeps coming back.

"I think I've actually found my calling. I really don't see myself doing anything else. God gave me a vision a long time ago of helping people," she said.

On a typical day, she operates the front desk and prepares boxes of food for those in need. Before they leave, she prays with them. In the future, she wants to have a facility to assist women and children.

"I never knew there was such a need for food and clothing and people needing to be ministered to. The hurt that people carry around makes your problems seem so minute," Ms. Mickens said. "Not to diminish what's going on in your life, but to realize, 'I have to do something. Whatever it takes.' It keeps you coming back. ...

"I tell them, 'It's for me, too. It's not just for you.' It's an amazing thing."

IT HELPS THAT her daughter is understanding, Ms. Mickens said. Despite the typical challenges of the teenage years, the mother and daughter have a close relationship. On a recent Saturday afternoon they were at home cooking chicken wings, talking and listening to contemporary gospel music.

Ms. Mickens said she has always tried to keep her daughter in a decent neighborhood so that she wouldn't grow up with negative influences.

"She's actually made the comment that she's spoiled, that she's never went without anything that she wanted, and she shocked me when she said that," Ms. Mickens said. "I figured that she's gone without lots of things that she's wanted. I felt so bad that I couldn't give her the things she wanted and needed."

She said her daughter doesn't realize, however, what she's had to go through to make ends meet. Christian is a senior this year, so there are extra expenses they can't afford, such as senior pictures.

"It's affecting her more this year than it has before," she said.

Still, her daughter remains on track. She's 11th in her class and wants to attend college and become a neurologist. She's a varsity cheerleader and belongs to numerous academic clubs, including the debate team and academic decathlon. She is also in training for youth leadership positions at her church.

Ms. Mickens fights to remain positive.

"God allows us to experience things," she said. "If I had not gone through the struggles of not knowing how my bills were going to get paid, where my next meal was going to come from or facing eviction, or going through pain or waiting and not knowing, I wouldn't know how to help these people. I wouldn't have this true compassion for them. Since I've walked that walk, I can relate."

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.

AREA FOOD PANTRIES

True Vine Missionary Baptist Church

1780 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

"6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday"

(706) 722-4011

Faith Outreach Christian Church

"2664 Willis Foreman Road, Hephzibah"

by appointment only - 9 a.m. to noon Monday and Friday; 8:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday

(706) 261-5043

Beulah Grove Bapitst Church

1446 Lee Beard Way

"first 10 applicants each day - 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday"

(706) 722-4999

Catholic Social Services

811 12th St.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch

(706) 722-3661

DCCM (Downtown Cooperative Church Ministry)

430 Eighth St.

picture ID required - 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; beginning Dec. 1 Monday-Friday

(706) 722-9065

Tremount Temple Baptist Church

1363 11th St.

10 a.m. to noon Thursday except first Thursdays - they go out on community visits

(706) 724-1264

Crawford Avenue Baptist Church

507 Crawford Ave.

"social security card and picture ID required - 10 a.m. to noon fourth Mondays, except Dec. 21 (third Monday)"

(706) 738-2527

Hillcrest Baptist Church

3045 Deans Bridge Road

"for residents of south Augusta and Hephzibah, social security cards, picture ID and proof of residence required - 10 a.m. to noon Mondays"

(706) 793-3104

Victory Assembly of God

2030 Olive Road

picture ID required - 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. second Thursday; other times by appointment

(706) 798-7742

Gracewood United Methodist Church

2117 Tobacco Road

"picutre ID, proof of residence and proof of income required - first 30 families living to the south of Windsor Spring Road or in Blythe, Hephzibah or McBean - 9:30-11_30 a.m. Tuesday"

(706) 798-2200

Broad Street Ministry Center

20 Broad St.

"picture ID and social security cards for recipients and their dependants required; work requirements also - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday"

(706) 722-5999

Shiloh Comprehesive Community Center

1635 15th St.

"for ages 60 and over one time per month, picture ID required - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday"

(706) 738-0089

Asbury United Methodist Church

1305 Troupe St.

picture ID required - 9 to 11 a.m. first and third Tuesday

(706) 736-0061

Augusta Deliverance Evangalistic Church

2028 Roosevelt Drive

"one visit per person per month - noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, except fourth and fifth Tuesdays"

(706) 736-7015

Augusta First Church of the Nazarene

2044 Lumpkin Road

"picture ID required; if on public assistance, bring paperwork - 10 a.m. to noon second and fourth Tuesday"

(706) 793-2251

Living Word Christian Center

3018 Old McDuffie Road

"call in advance - picture ID required - 9:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday; emergency walk-ins 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday"

(706) 798-0123

First Baptist Church of Augusta

3500 Walton Way

"first 36 residents of Richmond and Columbia counties, call for other requirements - 9:30-11 a.m. Tuesday"

(706) 733-2236

Everfaithful Missionary Baptist

314 Sandbar Ferry Road

"picture ID required - food bank, not pantry - no cooking - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. third and fourth Wednesdays and third Saturdays"

(706) 722-0553

The Hill Baptist Church

2165 Kings Way

"referral from EOA required - food bank, not pantry - no cooking - 10-11:30 a.m. or until food runs out Dec. 16 "

(706) 736-8446

Christ Episcopal Church

1904 Greene St.

first 60 clients - picture ID required - 10-11 a.m. first and third Thursday; soup kitchen 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays

(706) 736-5165

Vineyard Church Augusta

3126 Parrish Road

picture ID required - noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday

(706) 863-9766

Bible Deliverance Temple

1857 Fenwick St.

for emergencies only - by appointment only

(706) 736-1600

Williams Memorial CME Church

1636 15th St.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. first Saturday

(706) 733-9430

Grace Street Church of Christ

120 Grace St.

picture ID required - 9 a.m. to noon fourth Saturday; emergency assistance at other times by appointment

(706) 736-0222

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Comments (78)

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WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 01:32 pm
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Oh give me a break she is

Oh give me a break she is milking the system....I dont care if she is blue. get a job...She is not raising her daughter right. She is teaching her to go on welfare.. Is this story supposed to make us think she is doing something wonderful or what.....Sure I could volunteer all day if I did not have to work...Like I said I am the first to help some one but there is some kind of work she can do. Why doesn't she apply for SS if she is disabled... Probaly because she can not get a dr to go along with that.
And yea 11th in her class is good.but the mother went to college also...but she can not work... my head hurts to...think I will stay home from work

butler123
0
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butler123 11/27/09 - 01:33 pm
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I used to a work for a

I used to a work for a workshop in Arkansas. I wasn't saying this to be smart. I was serious. The town we were in only had 10,000 people, so surely they would have something for the disabled in a city this size. We also provided transportation. I'm not from here, so I don't know the area, but I bet the salvation army could tell you. We also helped them with shopping, cleaning their house and lots of other things too.

SusieQ
1
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SusieQ 11/27/09 - 01:37 pm
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I have also been a migraine

I have also been a migraine sufferer, but the medicine they gave me never made me hallucinate. I also have artiritis and suffer daily with pain. I feel if you can volunteer you can work a paying job. I've done both. I have passed the working age now, but still work on a daily basis, care-giver for my husband and all the daily chores a woman has to do. I Thank God every morning for giving me another day.

worriedboutdafuture
5
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worriedboutdafuture 11/27/09 - 01:40 pm
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While reading the first few

While reading the first few set of comments, I was appalled that these peeps would jump to such an irrational conclusion that this woman was out to cheat the system! That couldn't be further from the truth! As a taxpayer I sympathize with her plight and at least she is trying to contribute in a positive way to society! I hope that she can get a job and better support herself and her Family! She could very well have went the other way and be robbin and sticking you haters and such up! (even with her migranes!) to get ahead!. I'm praying for her and those detractors that spit trash (Cause very soon they could find themselves in the same situation or worse!) Keep on pressing On Miss Mickens god's got ya back!

corgimom
19374
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corgimom 11/27/09 - 01:43 pm
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WAG, you are a moron. It

WAG, you are a moron. It takes on the average 2-3 years to get Social Security disabilty. And, btw, not everyone is eligible for it. WAG, by all means, stay home from work and educate yourself, before you embarrass yourself further with things that you obviously know nothing about. And SusieQ, if you take opiates for pain, then you can forget about working, because no insurance carrier will cover businesses that hire workers that take opiates for any reason. She may only take them once a month, but that's all it takes. Read the story again, they are doing extensive neurological tests, she has Bell's Palsy, she has more than just migraines. Give that poor, sick woman a break, she is doing the best she can. What is wrong with people?

corgimom
19374
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corgimom 11/27/09 - 01:50 pm
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Oh, btw, SusieQ, just because

Oh, btw, SusieQ, just because your medication didn't make you hallucinate doesn't mean nobody else does. Use your common sense.

butler123
0
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butler123 11/27/09 - 01:53 pm
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It doesn't say that she has

It doesn't say that she has bell palsy, it says the migranes causes her to have the physical symptoms of bell palsy, if I read it correctly. I used to suffer from terrible migranes too. I generally got them at night though. I know they can be pretty bad for some, but usually if they are bad enough to keep you from working, there is an underlying cause. I hope they find out what it is and it can be treated.

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 11/27/09 - 01:58 pm
0
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I suffer from migraine

I suffer from migraine headaches and I am a single parent and I work full-time... no handicaps here!!

kkeutjm0807
0
Points
kkeutjm0807 11/27/09 - 02:01 pm
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I personally am relieved by

I personally am relieved by her positive hallucinations out somewhere giving her helps for other beings instead negetive medical side effects such as harm herself or others. SusieQ, I am enclosing my applauses for what you are going through too. You inspire me today with your real life story. Have a great day....

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 02:16 pm
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Butler, she's on pain

Butler, she's on pain medication. Strong pain medication. That knocks her out of qualifications for workshops. When you take narcotic pain meds, you are heavily under the influence, and that person is not able to work. I think pretty much everybody on here has taken Vicodin or codeine or Demerol or something along those lines. You can't drive, you can't operate machinery, you don't think straight, you don't make good decisions, and you want somebody like that to work?

butler123
0
Points
butler123 11/27/09 - 02:28 pm
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Corgimom, that is not true.

Corgimom, that is not true. As long as she is under a doctor's care and the medication is prescription. You don't know what you are talking about. There are programs for people just like her. I'm on pain medication right now and I drive and think just fine thank you very much. I've had severe medical problems for years and still worked. I don't care if she works or not, I would think she would want to work, I'm not just saying maybe she could work through a work shop. It wouldn't be much money, but it would be something, and they would know about her medical problems, she could work what ever days she is able. We had people working with every disability imaginable, on every type of medication imaginable.

WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 02:46 pm
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0

corgimom you must be related

corgimom you must be related to her....You really have no idea what you are talkinga about. If she can volunteer every day she can work.. give me a break there are jobs out there that she can do..
I commend her for doing volunteer work. but personally I am tired of my tax money going to support her and others like her...
I have lots of aches and pains but I work 8 hours a day...
She needs to do something to help herself besides collect welfare.

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 03:26 pm
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0

WAG, no I'm not. And Butler,

WAG, no I'm not. And Butler, oh yeah, I do know what I'm talking about. I'm still waiting for someone to post jobs that will hire someone on strong narcotic pain meds, who is unreliable and undependable and never knows when she will be feeling ok. Nobody, including you, can think of anything, because such a job doesn't exist. I don't care what you do or don't do, she is not you, and she obviously is very ill. Butler, if you are on strong narcotic pain meds and you are still driving, you are very unusual, and I cannot imagine any doctor that would tell you that you could. Stuff like Tramadol doesn't count. Good luck if you ever get in an accident, you will be found liable, and your car insurance won't cover you. And if you think that there are workshops and transportation for all the disabled people in the CSRA, you are not dealing with reality. And WAG and Butler, if her doctor says she can't work, she can't work, and it doesn't matter what the two of you think. You are not a doctor and don't have the right to decide if she can or can't, based on a newspaper story, for Pete's sake. I still cannot grasp the idea that people think a severely ill person should work.

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 03:28 pm
0
0

By the way, WAG, post all the

By the way, WAG, post all the employers that are willing to void their workmans' comp insurance by hiring her. Since you are so sure she can work, you must know of such a place.

rainingoranges
0
Points
rainingoranges 11/27/09 - 03:59 pm
0
0

You are all just being

You are all just being hateful. This woman has been responsible in her life. She has raised her child well. She has fallen on hard times medically. She is having difficulty finding a job in a terrible job market. Instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for herself, she is volunteering her spare time to help those needier than her. She is even refusing to apply for SSI because she doesn't want to admit "defeat." She is a fighter with a great moral compass. If anyone deserves help, it is this woman. Get over your prejudices (like those that clearly drive the first few comments in the thread) and start seeing people as fellow human beings instead of entities to pass judgment on.

WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 04:01 pm
0
0

She looks prettty healthy to

She looks prettty healthy to me!!! If she can volunteer everyday she can work..How bout this you support her... I want my tax money to go to someone who needs it. Like I said I have problems also but I work everyday... This was a stupid story. Instead of writing a story about her they should have been helping her get a job.

WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 04:03 pm
0
0

In her spare time... All she

In her spare time... All she has is spare time. she does not work...give me a break. she is milking the system

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 04:47 pm
0
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That's right, WAG. You're

That's right, WAG. You're right. She went to college, and got a degree and could make 4 times what she does now, but she is just milking the system. As part of this nefarious plot, she somehow makes one side of her face droop. And when she gets bored sitting around the house, she decides to go to the doctor and get painful, uncomfortable neurological tests that are very stressful, because we all know that there is nothing more fun in life than having medical tests and dealing with doctors and hopsitals. What a life. But I'm just wondering, if you don't think she should be on welfare, who should?

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 04:49 pm
0
0

Oh WAG, while you're at it,

Oh WAG, while you're at it, while you're compiling the list of all the employers that will hire an obviously sick woman, please don't forget to include the ones that will let her have unlimited time off to go to scheduled doctor visits. You're so sure she should work, I'm sure you're already have a long list in mind.

WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 05:07 pm
0
0

Like I said you mst be

Like I said you mst be related to her...She is milking the system

WAG
287
Points
WAG 11/27/09 - 05:12 pm
0
0

Just cause you have a college

Just cause you have a college degree does not make you want to work....if she does not have a job her job is to get a job. if she spent as much time looking for a job as she does volunteering she would have a job...but no she sits back and waits for a handout...There are people with much worse illnesses than migraines and they still work. I remember a woman that worked with me that had cancer and she had to keep coming back to work just to keep up her insurance...she is dead now...but she did not go on welfare....Like I said this was a stupid article..It is great that she volunteers but working would be even better. God helps those that helps themselves!

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 05:27 pm
0
0

Can't answer any of my

Can't answer any of my questions, can you? Still waiting for you to come up with all the employers that will hire an ill woman, on significant medication, that requires unlimited time off. I know it'll be a long wait.

Roeschen
1
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Roeschen 11/27/09 - 05:48 pm
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0

Corgimom -you seem to be

Corgimom -you seem to be reading a lot into this story. It does not state she has Bells Palsy, only that she has the physical symptoms of Bells Palsy. Also, nowhere does it state she is on strong narcotic pain meds, are you assuming this to be the case? Many, many people have migraines and yet manage to work. My neighbor has a child who is mentally handicapped and yet the handicapped daughter manages to hold down a job and work 30 hours a week. I'm sorry, there are too many people who are milking the system. Each and every one of us has aches, pains, and difficulties. What would the world be if we all stayed home and refused to work because of them. BTW - it took my sister-in-law less than 8 months to be approved for SS disability here in Augusta once she applied. I am not sure how you figure 2 -3 years.

savoy_savoy
1
Points
savoy_savoy 11/27/09 - 06:07 pm
0
0

eachone-----you are in my

eachone-----you are in my opinion, a horrible person...and ignorant by your opinions posted here. Justus, I totally agree. This woman is probably MORE educated than most of the bloggers posting their hateful and mean spirited comments. Ms. Mickens or any associates of her, please continue to do GOD will and wait....Isaiah 26, please read, I'm in Atlanta praying for you and your health!

corgimom
19374
Points
corgimom 11/27/09 - 06:09 pm
0
0

Roeschen, "She is receiving

Roeschen, "She is receiving extensive medical testing, and her headaches are so severe that she has the physical symptoms of Bell's palsy, such as paralysis or weakness on one side of her face. Her medicine has added to her difficulties, with side effects such as hallucinations and memory loss." Workshops won't take people with those kinds of issues. She has a lot more going on than migraines, they wouldn't be doing all the tests on her if that's what it was. I just hope that she recovers and that the doctors can help her. And shame on all the people that accuse her of "milking" it. That woman suffers, and suffers badly. And, Roeschen, being mentally disabled has nothing to do with physical illness.

savoy_savoy
1
Points
savoy_savoy 11/27/09 - 06:19 pm
0
0

Too much negativity going on

Too much negativity going on here...and its sad. Not the story, but the people commenting.

Coachurly1
0
Points
Coachurly1 11/27/09 - 06:28 pm
0
0

Why don't welfare women have

Why don't welfare women have the unwanted pregnancies "taken care of'? Middle class women do it on a regular basis.

savoy_savoy
1
Points
savoy_savoy 11/27/09 - 06:35 pm
0
0

coachurly:what the hell does

coachurly:what the hell does that have to do with the point of the story? no common sense....crazy

savoy_savoy
1
Points
savoy_savoy 11/27/09 - 06:41 pm
0
0

Maybe its me, but I

Maybe its me, but I comprehended the story fully and to my understanding, this woman is a fully grown, mother, grandmother, divorced, ex-husband not paying child support (as he should), where is it printed that she is pregnant and in need of a procedure to "take care of" a unwanted pregnancy?

savoy_savoy
1
Points
savoy_savoy 11/27/09 - 06:43 pm
0
0

I gotta stop reading this

I gotta stop reading this because you people in Augusta are really pissing me off, Have a happy day and hopefully, you don't end up in her shoes....

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