East Chicago mom headed back to school to help family
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent December 14, 2013 3:30PM
Updated: January 16, 2014 6:35AM
EAST CHICAGO — Tiawana Thomas works part-time at a grocery store and is raising her two children, Michael Rodgers, 10, and Makayla Rodgers, 8.
Her children are active with the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Katherine House in East Chicago, where Michael plays basketball and Makayla gets homework help — and helps the staff a little, too.
“She likes to be in charge,” Thomas said, adding the club has been invaluable, providing a safe place, even picking her children up after school when she has to work.
This year is particularly difficult for Thomas and her children. Her mother used to help her out financially, particularly at Christmas, but she has been in a nursing home for the past six months and can’t help the family now.
That’s where the Post-Tribune’s Empty Stocking Fund comes in.
Since 1998, the fund, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Lake and Porter counties, has provided financial assistance to families in need, raising tens of thousands of dollars and helping families give children a Christmas they might not have otherwise. The fund raised more than $4,300 last year for local families.
Makayla would like an Easy Bake Oven and some dolls, Thomas said. Michael wants a basketball, but “he’s not really picky.”
Thomas has been waiting on her paycheck to start shopping, though that will be a little easier now, thanks to the Empty Stocking Fund.
“Whatever I can get them is what they will get,” she said.
In January, Thomas will start taking classes in early childhood development at the East Chicago campus of Ivy Tech Community College.
She looks forward to getting the education she needs to move her young family along.
She’s drawn to education, she said, “because I like kids and being around kids, and I think I have the patience.”