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Diane worked in the medical field for twenty-seven years, raising two adopted children and maintaining a home with her husband, a truck driver whose job transferred them to Burlington in 1985. Then in 2007 she was diagnosed with diabetes. She was no longer able to work and found it difficult to pay her bills. By this time, she was divorced and although her children were grown, she regularly provided childcare for her seven grandchildren. With the help of the Burlington Housing Authority and payments from disability, she has managed to provide a safe home for herself and her family, which now includes two more foster children, the grandchildren of a friend.
Although she could not continue her work in the medical field, she has been able to serve her local community as the Resident Commissioner, representing their needs, concerns and interests at resident council meetings hosted by the Burlington Housing Authority. She is particularly attentive to the single mothers in her community, urging them to finish their education and get the skills they need to get good jobs. She knows how difficult it can be to try to raise a family and maintain a job. She also knows the devastating impact of being in an abusive relationship. Her self-esteem vanished and she considered dropping out of school. Today, she mentors young women against falling into the same trap she found herself in.
Her hopes are trained on her children and grandchildren and the possibility of her own home. “I hope to see my family and my grandchildren, my grandkids have their own place, in a big house somewhere on a hill. I tell them that all the time. I still want to be involved in the community, but I do want to be in my own home.” She hasn’t given up on her health career either. Once she finishes getting her recertification to be a foster parent, she hopes to be able to take classes at the local community college to become a pharmacy technician.
Interviewed by Tom Mould, 2015. Photographed by Erin Turner, 2015