They pour their hearts into caring for others, but many can barely support their families.

"I know that a lot of the children, they’re starving by the time they get to my home in the morning. And a lot of times, you can just see it. They’re weak. And you can look at the parents and you can see that they’re weak. I sacrifice my groceries, I sacrifice water, sometimes I have clothing from other children ... sometimes I’ll sneak them into the bag. There have been times when I've gone to the Salvation Army if I had extra money and I know that there was a child in need."

Nicole Small, a child care worker in Detroit shared the above story. This is her reality. And she's not alone.

You see, there are people who love their jobs. I mean really love their jobs.


Their work makes them feel fulfilled. It makes them feel purposeful. They're giving back to their community. They're helping people who actually cannot help themselves. They're shaping the minds of young children whose parents are struggling to put food on the table. They are their client's backbone. They hold them up and keep them strong as life throws challenges their way. They're proud of what they do.

But they go home after spending eight or more hours at work and often can't afford to put food on their own tables.

Nicole Small, a child care worker in Detroit. All photos via SEIU, used with permission.

Many times, they have no savings, no chance for retirement. Often they can't afford to own a car, and if it's a necessity they can't get away from, they can't afford gas. Still, they refuse to feel hopeless.

This is a reality for so many child care and home care workers in this country.

They work hard every day, doing jobs that are absolutely necessary — in many cases saving lives. But they can't support themselves. They make such a low wage that basics like socks need to be budgeted for. They're on public assistance and are barely scraping by. And many of us don't know about it. But as leaders in the Fight for 15 movement, they're making their voices heard and sharing their stories.

Home care and child care  workers at a Fight for $15 rally.

Many care workers struggle every day to make ends meet:

Nicole (child care)

"To be honest with you, it’s hard not to [survive]. When you’re looking at those children, it’s hard not to. I don’t know, you just kick into survival mode ... it’s just a part of your everyday life. Does it get exhausting? Are you tired? Absolutely. But what are you going to do when you have children here and you know that they need you."

Melissa Benjamin (home care)

"As a woman and working in home care, I have found myself completely dependent on my husband for everything. Even gas to get to my job. Because my job doesn’t pay a wage where I can support that. And so it creates this co-dependency on other people ... and there’s not a lot of dignity in that."

Melissa Benjamin, a home care worker in Colorado.

And as they fight for fair wages and a voice on the job, they’re worried that people don’t understand their struggle.

Denise Major (home care)

"You’re going to do work above and beyond the call of duty anyways simply because that’s someone that you love and you care about. ... It’s like you’re working but you’re still in poverty. And you’re working long hours and you’re working alone."

Denise Major, a home care worker in Pennsylvania.

Patricia Walker (home care)

"Everybody can’t do it. ... It takes a special person to go into somebody’s home and take care of them and give them that love and attention."

Sepia Coleman (home care)

"We are invisible. We’re not appreciated. We’re totally disrespected. And we have more financial struggles than time allows. We are literally the lowest paid people in our field, with the population of people that we work with."

Pavonne Scott (child care)

"We work so hard, tirelessly with the children, and then we can’t come home and pay our own bills. You’re giving so much and every day that you give goes straight to the bills. And that has been the biggest challenge."

Home care and child care  workers at a Fight for $15 rally.

Melissa (home care)

"I wish people knew that it requires skill. A lot of people will say, 'Well, it’s just home care; you’re just like a babysitter. Why would you need a fair wage for that? All you’re doing is cooking and cleaning.' But no, there’s more that goes into it than that. There’s a lot more that goes into it."

Still, they show up for work every day, in spite of the challenges, because they love their jobs and know how vital they are.

Patricia (home care)

"I love what I do. I love my people. I don’t call them clients anymore because I’ve been with them for a minute. So they’re like my family. ... I want to be involved with them and I just love what I do. That’s the only way I can say it. I love what I do."

Pavonne (child care)

"The children need teaching. The children are our future ... it’s a heavy responsibility."

Pavonne Scott, a child care worker in Florida.

Melissa (home care)

"I’m a caregiver. I know people need care, and it’s what I do. And also, I like home care because I find that people are happier in their homes. When they’re in their homes, they feel secure and valued and comfortable. Knowing that there’s a need for that has kept me in it."

Nicole (child care)

"If you really care about the children, the quality of their education and the quality of their life, that’s what you do. You just jump in, and you help out in any area that you can."

Sepia (home care)

"I know that I am doing a good service to someone who is in need of care. And I know that one day, it could be me ... that’s what keeps me motivated and keeps me going."

Sepia Coleman, a home care worker in Tennessee.

And they’re fighting for $15 and a union because it gives them hope that better days are around the corner.

Denise (home care)

"I know I have a voice now. I know I no longer have to suffer in silence, and I can help other home care workers to kind of help them help themselves. ... We have a unique situation because we all work in separate places, so we rarely ever congregate unless it’s a rally or something like that. ... So I just want to let other home care workers know that we’re not alone. ... We have a voice and we can call each other. And we can kind of feel like we’re not on an island by ourselves and feeling stuck and helpless."

Sepia (home care)

"Everybody that has a job should have dignity and respect ... every job is not for everybody. But if the job is done in the best of performing, please show that person that you appreciate them. Don’t have a person working for your company eight or nine, 10 years, and they have to come and beg you for the compensation of a raise. It’s not fair to them. We’re not slaves, we’re people."

Patricia (home care)

"I ride the bus to my clients every day. I can’t afford a car. It’s very important to me that no one that’s coming up after me has to go through what I’m going through. Or what I’ve been through."

Patricia Walker, a home care worker in Florida.

Nicole (child care)

"It means that our children will be able to be more competitive when they go to a standard school like kindergarten or middle school ... they’ll have a better education and they’ll have a better quality of life. That’s what it means to me for the children. And what it means to me for myself? It means that I can give them more."

Melissa (home care)

"That’s what this movement is about. It’s about dignity. Giving dignity to the home care workers and the client."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

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The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

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Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

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