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Recession fallout

Social workers face new challenges

Mary Adams works full time as a bank teller for Wells Fargo and is a proud mother of six children, who range in age from 7 months to 23 years old. Her oldest son is in college, and Adams goes to church every Sunday, where she’s famous for her homemade banana pudding. She’s a positive and outgoing 40-year-old woman, and she radiates an enthusiasm for life that’s contagious.

But Adams also is a single mother, who, despite having a steady job with benefits, was evicted from her townhome and is now homeless. She lives with her young son and 14-year-old daughter in a shelter run by Northern Virginia Family Services while her other children are living separately with family members or friends. Adams rarely gets to see them, and she looks forward to a time when her whole family can be under the same roof once more.

“I never thought I’d be in this position,” Adams said. “Even though I was living from paycheck to paycheck, I was able to get by and provide a home for my kids. We weren’t rich, but we had what we needed. But once I went on maternity leave, my pay was cut and I fell behind on my bills and couldn’t catch up. Things happened fast ... my car got repossessed; I fell behind on my rent. Now I’m living in a shelter.”

Adams is one of many Americans who have had to change the way they live over the past few years. According to an Associated Press report on the 2010 U.S. Census data, nearly one in two Americans is in poverty or considered low income. The latest Census results also show increases in the number of single mothers in America and the number of people over the age of 65 who are still in the work force instead of retirement.

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