First place, Josephine Torres, Written by her children, Jazmin and Xavier.
My mother has been a single parent since our dad left us when I was a baby and Xavier was 6 months old. I was very sick with cancer and mommy always took me to Tampa for my chemo treatment. She always took good care of me and Xavier even after she got hurt in a bad car accident. I know she is a strong woman and a great mom 'cause no matter what she always puts me and Xavier first. When things got hard for her with money, we all moved into my Grandma and Grandpa's house. Mommy was cleaning houses for money to pay the bills and buy us food. Some days she came home real dirty and tired, but she always read to us a bedtime story, after she gave us our bath. And if I got a fever, she would rush me to St. Joseph Children's Hospital in Tampa and leave Xavier with Grandma. Because of my port (a surgically implanted device that aids in the delivery of chemotherapy), I had to go to the St. Joseph's Hospital with any kind of fever, and sometimes we spent days or weeks there and mommy had to sleep on a little chair. It was not comfortable, and I know it hurt her bad knee from the accident, but she would never leave my side. My mommy is very special to me 'cause we have been through a lot with my cancer. When Dr. Tebbie told her it came back after my year of remission and he said I had 60 percent chance of living, she cried a lot, but she tried not to let my see her cry. I heard her and I was worried, too.
My mommy has been under a lot of stress recently with all the yelling and drama at Pinellas Village. She looks so tired and old. She used to look young and very pretty and I miss that. She has always been nice to people and helping them out. She used to take my friends and Xavier's friends to Busch Gardens, parks and beaches. But lately she is too tired, stressed and broke to do any fun stuff. Sometimes I hear her crying in her room and I feel so bad for her.
Lately, we have not been able to go to Busch Gardens or out to dinner because she is so poor, so could you please pick my mom for the contest? Xavier and I really feel she deserves to be treated real nice and taken out somewhere real special. Please pick my mom for the contest . She never wins anything and Xavier and I would love to give her this gift. Now with all the gossip in our building, after my mom helped some neighbors and their kids here, no one is nice to my mom anymore and most of the time they don't even talk to her. It is real sad and I feel sorry for her.
Second place, Marjorie Stout
I am profoundly deaf and a 49-year-old single parent of two young children. I would like to be a winner in the makeover contest because since becoming a parent, I've lost a good part of my identity and self-esteem. I've been working hard to restructure my life and raise my kids, but I would like to become my own person as well as a mother. I think I could be an even better parent if I were happier and self-sufficient.
I was married at age 40, and I had my first child later that year. We moved to Florida and I became pregnant with my second child at the age of 42. I battled acute mastitis. I had to be hospitalized for this condition.
I find that inside I do seem to lack confidence in myself and feel something is holding me back. While I do my best to remain positive about myself, my insecurities have a way of surfacing and I believe this is my greatest liability. Finding a job and apparently, maintaining it, proves difficult if not seemingly impossible due to the economy and lack of understanding or resources on the employers' end. As a person with a disability, I have to look twice as good — to have a much better presentation than the general applicant. I feel quite competent about my abilities on the job, yet have very little confidence in myself as a person.
My wardrobe and appearance are an issue that I view with great concern. I have not bought any new clothes in many years. Everything I have is second-hand. I don't like my clothes. However, they fit: more or less. I have gained weight since I broke my foot a year and a half ago. I am embarrassed by my clothing and appearance. Although I have not seen my old friends and most family for many years, I cringe at the thought of them seeing me in this image. Yet I have no idea how to find something that works for me, and helps me feel good.
Feeling attractive is difficult. For example, my eyebrows grow so fast that "Locks of Love'' has my number! They could take on new meaning for the term "knitting her eyebrows.'' I know that Brooke Shields has a similar condition, and she is very attractive, but sometimes I feel like Groucho Marx.
I am ready to put my difficulties behind me and move forward. Having a good self-image would be a great start. I know it doesn't happen immediately but slowly building a good foundation would make it possible. I would like to have the opportunity to start here. Even though I am not currently employed, I am actively seeking a job. I have put in many volunteer hours for other single moms, and at my kids' school, with the classrooms, advocacy and fundraising for children's services, and helping others. I had a much better sense of self-esteem before I had kids, and I have held good jobs, executive director of a nonprofit agency for the deaf and blind, and as a program manager for deaf and blind women. I am also an accomplished artist, having established my name in publications and lectures on deaf education and art. But I haven't created anything in years. I think I am a very good friend to have and I know how to take care of others. It is time to start caring for myself, but where and how to start is something I need help with.
Third place, Lindsey Ansteatt
Hello my name is Lindsey Ansteatt. I am a single mother of a beautiful 41/2-year-old little girl named Bliss. I am currently a full-time student working on my prerequisites to enter the nursing program at St. Petersburg College. I am almost finished, but I cannot get into the program until at least August 2010, so I am also going to work on prerequisites for my bachelor's degree. I have had a weight problem off and on my whole life and have recently decided enough is enough. I am just starting out but I have lost 35 pounds since March 1. I know that 35 pounds is great in a few months, but since I started out so heavy it is hard to feel accomplished.
Without giving you a bunch of sob stories, I have been through more in life than most people could handle. My daughter has been through more than I ever wanted her to go through. I have always been strong willed and optimistic. I am the type of person that refuses to give up because YOU are the only person who can help you! It has taken me a long time to even be comfortable enough with myself to admit when I need help and ask for it.
I am asking to be considered for this makeover because I have really never felt pretty in my life. I know that I am a good person on the inside and don't feel that my outside projects my inside appropriately. I would like to feel as happy on the outside as I do on the inside. The only haircuts I have ever had have been done by friends who don't cut hair. I would like some kind of style but was never taught how to be "girly'' so I don't know which one or how to choose it.
I color my hair at home with the cheapest kind I can get and only do that every three to four months when I can no longer stand the roots. I get my eyebrows waxed twice a year when I can no longer stand them either because I don't know how to pluck them.
My life is very hectic right now. I am currently at SPC as I said, and it is summer session, which means that a full session of assignments and tests are crammed into a 10-week session. With school work and being mommy to a beautiful and extremely active little girl, I am very lucky to get sleep and a regular shower. I am the type of person that strives for perfection so if it means staying up until 4 a.m. to finish assignments so that I have more time to spend with Bliss in the evenings so be it. I have been in school since August 2008 and currently have a GPA of 3.375. I am juggling the best I can but keep falling into the trap most mothers do, where they don't make time for themselves. I would like to be considered for this so that I have no excuses of other things to do and I can just take time for me. I want to feel pretty at least for one day. Thank you for considering me.
Essays for Pinellas Village's Empowering Single Parents Contest tell of difficulties, dreams
First place, Josephine Torres, Written by her children, Jazmin and Xavier.