Saturday, November 27, 1999

Knowing poverty led woman to give

Mother of four had relied on center

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DAYTON, Ky. — Pepper Groves knows what it's like to have three little children and virtually nothing else, and to rely on public assistance and donations from agencies just to get by.

        Ms. Groves, whose first name is Barbara but says “a lot of people only know me as Pepper,” has pulled herself out of poverty but hasn't forgotten where she came from.

        Although she's been off work for several weeks because of a hand injury, she bought a turkey and other food items that were delivered to a needy family by Brighton Center workers the day before Thanksgiving.

        “You're supposed to help others in need,” the 30-year-old mother of four children (ages 13, 12, 9 and 3) said. “You should try to do for your brother. Everything does come back. ... It has for me.”

        Working through Brighton Center, the area's largest nonprofit charitable agency, was a natural for Ms. Groves because she is the beneficiary of the center's assistance.

        “Brighton Center took wonderful care of me and my children when we had almost nothing,” the Newport native said. “We wouldn't have made it without them. I'm just giving back for what I got.”

        Ms. Groves said she was married at 16, a mother at 17, and eventually divorced from what she called “a dangerous relationship” when she was in her early 20s. For several years she relied on public assistance and Brighton Center to survive.

        Now she has a job, and she was able to buy a gutted house in Dayton that she has rehabilitated and remodeled.

        “The best thing about all this is I know Brighton Center will be there for me if I ever have trouble again,” Ms. Groves said.

        Michelle Jackson, a family-development specialist for Brighton Center, keeps in contact with Ms. Groves. “When she has a need to talk, ... she calls me,” Ms. Jackson said.

        “I'm not personally aware of anyone who has done what she has,” Ms. Jackson said. “I've known her for a little over a year. She's pulled herself up and made a home for her children. That's impressive.”

        While Ms. Groves may still be living from one paycheck to the next, she made certain that someone else less fortunate had a good meal on Thanksgiving Day.


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