People on SNAP aren't who you think. Case in point, this hard-working couple.
True
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Gideon and Lina Ramirez are college-educated, employed parents of three kids. They’re also living on food stamps.

“We’re a happy family of five,” says Lina. She works part-time from home as a graphics designer while Gideon is in his last year at Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia.

“He’s training to be an emergency room doctor,” says Lina proudly. “If anyone can do it, it’s him. He’s probably the most calm and cool-headed person on the planet.”


The pair met by chance while living in California. “We just kind of bumped into each other in the neighborhood,” says Lina.

The two began spending more time together, until life intervened and they had to part ways. However, not long after, Gideon got into Brigham Young, and they found themselves back in the same state again rekindling their romance. Soon they were married, and shortly after that, their first daughter, Eugenia, was born.

Photo via Hannah Busing/Unsplash.

“When my first one came, I could still do full-time,” says Lina. “I was living in Utah with family, and my mother and father were kind enough to really help out.”

But then their son, Sebastian, was born around the same time that Gideon got into medical school, and their situation became exponentially more difficult.

Gideon was offered a spot at Thomas Jefferson University, so the family relocated. “When we moved to Philadelphia, I didn’t have any friends or family there,” says Lina. “It was a lot harder to find childcare for two, so I decided to work part-time from home.”

But with two kids, a part-time job, and a husband in medical school, Lina’s life began to get hectic.

Gideon’s full schedule of classes, training, and studying made it impossible for him to maintain a job. Lina found herself caring for two children and trying to support her family on a part-time salary. Time was short and money was tight. “If I had a way to clone myself, then we would have been fine,” she jokes. “But I just didn’t have enough hours in a day.”

Lina with her baby daughter. Photo via Lina Ramirez.

After their third child, Margot, was born, the Ramirezes were forced to admit that they needed help.

Lina realized that she wasn’t going to be able to raise their three children, maintain their household, and sustain five people financially. So the family applied for food assistance.

At first, Lina was hesitant. “I was afraid of what people might think. I was afraid of what I would think [of] myself,” she says. “I was just kind of embarrassed.”

Eventually, she realized that food assistance was a perfectly respectable solution — and the best way to allow Gideon to finish medical school on schedule and go back to working full-time. “Gideon was like, ‘you know, we really can’t do it on our own,’” says Lina. “And it was only for a little bit, because he’s almost done with school. So that’s when we decided.”

They applied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and their case was approved and they were granted a food assistance card.

Photo via Wikimedia.

Now, Lina has time to raise her kids as best she can — which includes cooking with the groceries she buys with her SNAP benefits.

“Margot and I go grocery shopping once a week,” Lina says. “I have so many bags because I make everything from scratch.” Her cooking includes a combination of her native Hispanic food and her husband’s Hawaiian fare. SNAP benefits allow her to purchase whole foods and ingredients.

“Being on these food stamps gives me the time to be able to know what I’m feeding my children.”

It also helps her be a better mom for her kids. “It’s really brought balance to the house,” Lina says. “They need me! They’re so little, they’re my priority. I still work part-time and try to squeeze in my adult life while they’re sleeping. But it’s less stressful.”

Lina’s no longer embarrassed about using food stamps — and she is adamant that no one else should be either.

Photo via SNAP.

“When you meet with your caseworker, they realize that you’re in need. They’re not judging you,” she says.

Lina knows that there’s still a stigma associated with people who use food stamps, but it doesn’t concern her. “They’re not on there because they’re lazy. They’re on there because they’re in need.”

Food stamps allow Lina to care for her children while Gideon finishes his education. The program isn’t holding them back — it’s helping them get ahead.

Gideon is almost done with medical school, and the family will move again when he gets his hospital assignment in March. Lina’s biggest challenge is no longer struggling to feed her kids — it’s helping them get ready for the future. Right now she’s working on explaining their upcoming move to Eugenia, who will be starting kindergarten next fall.

"I say to her, 'Honey, there’s a chance that we might not be here [in Philadelphia], but you’ll get to meet new friends and go somewhere new,'" says Lina. “And she’s just like, ‘Okay, in that case I wanna move to Disney World!’”

Though Eugenia’s plans might be a little overly optimistic, the Ramirezes are undeniably looking forward to a bright, independent future.

“I think everyone who goes onto the food stamp program is hoping for their situation to change, and is working toward that,” says Lina. “We just need a little bit of help to get us past that challenge.”

True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter, U.S. Department of State

It takes a lot to push a career diplomat to quit their job. A diplomat's specialty, after all, is diplomacy—managing relationships between people and governments, usually with negotiation and compromise.

So when the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, whose "diplomatic experience and demonstrated interagency leadership have been honed directing several of the United States government's largest overseas programs in some of the world's most challenging, high-threat environments," decides to resign effective immediately, it means something.

Daniel Foote, who was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July of this year, explained his decision to quit in a strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Blinken. His resignation comes in the wake of a wave of Haitian migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border and widespread reports of harsh treatment and deportations.

"I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," he wrote. "Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own."

Foote went on to describe the dire conditions in Haiti:

Keep Reading Show less