By Alan Rollins, FII Story Curator
People across the country are faced with many challenges due to the dire times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lifestyles of the residents in Michigan have been affected as they adjust to the setbacks caused by the pandemic. Michiganders such as Shakiea Arnold are trying to find inner peace in the midst of chaos and hope in the midst of despair. Arnold exemplifies how each of us can be triumphant despite the challenges we are faced with.
Arnold lives in Detroit, Michigan and stated she has been a FII member since 2017. She stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to home-school her children due to their school closing. Arnold stated it is difficult to homeschool her 9-year-old and 4-year-old girls. She indicated one of the challenges she is facing is keeping her children focused on the lessons and she said they tend to get bored in the home-schooling environment. Arnold has to come up with creative ways to keep her children’s attention and stated she homeschools them 3 or 4 days out of the week. She stated she has included home economics as a part of their curriculum as they are learning how to cook and other aspects of managing a household as well. As a stay at home mom, Arnold stated she has a passion for her family. She said that “family is first” and that you must take care of your family.
One of the ways Arnold takes care of her family is ensuring that her children have a healthy diet and she incorporates vegetables into their meals. Facing chronic asthma since childhood and being recently diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS), Arnold is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She mentioned how she has struggled with the symptoms of CVS for over 10 years, before being diagnosed. She also mentioned how due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been challenging getting the steroid medication she needs to treat her chronic asthma. She indicated how she has been forced to pay the high cost for treatment due to being cut off from her medical insurance. She also stated that she faced challenges with getting medical care for her chronic asthma due to the influx of COVID-19 patients. Still, despite those challenges, Arnold stated she is determined to keep herself healthy. She stated after having her children she become obese and since then has lost nearly 130 pounds. She indicated she recently had some weight gain, which she is determined to lose by eating healthier and exercising.
Arnold indicated she and her children are starting a garden and plans to plant a variety of vegetables and fruits. The garden will definitely come in handy to Arnold as she demonstrates her impeccable culinary skills during meal-time. Arnold expressed that she is an excellent cook, but she does not bake. She makes meals from diverse cultures and is extremely fond of making a variety of dishes using curry. As a stay at home mom, Arnold uses her culinary skills to make extra money by selling dishes to her family and friends. She also braids hair to earn money in addition to her cooking. Arnold stated it has been difficult for her to keep employment due to health complications and seeks to get disability to maintain an income source. She stated that the funds she received from FII helped to pay bills at a time when she really needed it.
Arnold expressed how the resources she accessed through FII were invaluable to her. Arnold accomplished the goals of becoming a homeowner and purchasing a car as a FII member. She stated she was grateful for the funds she received through FII and her ability to network with people in various states across the country. She still keeps in touch with members from a book club she joined through FII. She stated she has a very hectic schedule with homeschooling her children and her involvement in a few non-profit community organizations. Arnold expressed how she looks forward to the weekends as she uses them to spend quality time with her family.
Arnold is also looking forward to meeting some new goals she has set for next year. She plans on going back to school next year. She didn’t finish pursuing her college degree due to raising her children. She previously enrolled in college on different occasions as she was interested in being an X-Ray Technologist and studying culinary arts. She may continue to home-school her children next year due to her concerns about COVID-19. Arnold remains steadfast in surviving the pandemic with her focus on keeping her family healthy while making the best of these trying times.