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Arthritis Disabled Single Mom Artist Seeks Grant Money To Live Autonomously

by Andrea B. Anton
(Pleasant Hill, California, USA)

My name is Andrea Anton. I am a 47-year-old single mother. I have three children, ages 28, 20 and 18. I live in Pleasant Hill, California with my two youngest children.

I started having the first symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 18 years old. For most of my life I did not think of myself as an ill person.

Despite swollen joints, pain, fatigue and confusion about the illness I went about my life as any healthy person would.

When I was 21, I put myself through college while caring for my young daughter and working three jobs. I became a graphic designer and ultimately had my own small design business. I later married and had two sons.

After staying home with my children for three years I returned to work. I did not have the time needed to rebuild a design clientele so I got a job in a law firm as a bookkeeper and also worked at my sons' preschool as an administrative assistant.

Sadly my marriage fell apart and I again needed to make more money. By now I had many contacts in the legal field so I put myself through a paralegal degree program.

It was a two-year program, which I completed, by way of an accelerated weekend program through UC Berkeley Extension, in four months.

Over the next few years my career took off. I worked with a wonderful firm who wanted to help me go through law school to become an attorney.

By now, though, my illness really got worse. I was in constant pain all over my body, my fingers and hands were permanently swollen and twisted, I was exhausted all the time and I became very thin due to malaise and nausea.

Every morning when I woke up I didn't know which joints would be swollen or how I could even get through the day. I was my own cheerleader, saying to myself, "Just get in the shower, you'll feel better," then, "Just go one step at a time, go get the kids ready for school, you can do it."

My employer was very supportive and understanding. At one point I had to take a three-month medical leave because a medical treatment I was receiving made me so weak that I could barely stand up. When I returned to work I was thereafter only able to work four days a week.

Finally in 2002 I became so sick that I just could no longer keep working. My doctors had been suggesting that I stop working for several years, but until that point I wouldn't hear of it. In 2003 I applied for and received Social Security disability. My official disability status is Permanent.

The financial hardship of being a single mother with a debilitating illness is difficult to reduce to words. It is constant, endless and at times seemingly hopeless.

Until June of this year I was receiving child support and alimony, which allowed my children and me to live fairly well, despite my rising medical costs. But now I am unable to meet many of my expenses, including my mortgage payment, food, doctor visits, and medications.

The type of financial support I am seeking is grant money. I already receive Social Security Disability. I exhausted my state disability benefits. I currently receive a medical and low-income discount on my energy bill.

I have applied to my medical plan for financial assistance with my co-payments and am awaiting their decision. I plan to move from my home to a small apartment within the next few months.

I am also an artist. I started painting after I stopped working so I wouldn't go crazy staying at home.

I also am a musician. I played guitar from the time I was 11 years old. I can't really play anymore because my hands are so weak, but I do sing with a band that I became involved in two years ago through a class at the community college.

I also write: poems, songs, short stories, and a journal. Perhaps I could be eligible for some sort of artist grant.

Thank you so much for your assistance.

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May 22, 2015
Further Help
by: SheilaKay Paris

Hi Andrea,

It's been a while, and I hope you check back here every now and then. I wanted to see how you were doing. You are so talented and so tenacious that I'm sure your situation has improved, but most likely not your physical condition.

Don has a business associate he endorses, Brian, that operates the following website that I'll give you the link for. He also has a passion for the disabled and offers his services for free. His income comes from the sponsors.

Disability Digest

At the bottom of the page is where you click to join and it opens up services such as:

Getting Approved For Disability
How To Maximize Your Benefits
How Much You Can Legally Make
Reliable Jobs And Income
How To Find Affordable Housing
Disabled Grants
Financial & Health Care Assistance
Connect With And Learn From Others
All About Veterans Benefits, and
More when you become a member

I know you already have disability from social security, but there are ways to enhance that income that he can show you. Plus he has other opportunities for you to research and apply for.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing. I wish you many blessings and good tidings.

Jan 16, 2012
Resources for Artists with Disabilities
by: Katina M. Woodruff

Dear Andrea Anton,

I’m so glad that you returned to Ability-Mission.org to check the comments left. Your story is one that I pondered about over the last two years since reading it. I too have a severe pain condition and work from home. Initially, I was going to college and had to take a short leave to get my pain under control. With RA it’s hard to cope with the fact that it is a progressive disease. Have you ever gone to a support group in your hometown or online for support? A website that I feel may help you other than Ability-Mission.org is: For Grace, it’s a group that was started by a young woman who was a talented ballet dancer. She had developed severe pain all over her body and was later diagnosed with RSD: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Here are some additional links to help you in your search.

Take care

Resources for Artists with Disabilities

National Arts & Disability Center

The National Arts and Disability Center is a program of the Tarjan Center at UCLA, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

For more information about the CAC mini-grant program, please contact Beth Stoffmacher at the NADC:

University of California, Los Angeles
11075 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 825-5054 Fax: (310) 794-1143

Artists Help Network

Jan 15, 2012
Thank you Katina
by: Andrea Anton

Thank you so much for the resources, Katina. I appreciate it so much. I will look into those that apply to me. I apologize for the long delay. I thought I would receive e-mails on this and made the mistake of not returning to this site until just now. Thank you again!

Aug 31, 2010
Artist Resources
by: Katina from Ability-Mission.org

Have you tried contacting the Artist association for help with living expenses to continue your art work?

I did some preliminary research for you to check out.

Women Arts Emergency Funds

Artist with a Disability that you can contact for support, advice, or to view her art work.

Wendy Chu
Short Center North
Phone: (916) 973-1951

Please let us know if the links here have benefited you in any way. Thanks for sharing your story.

Katina from Ability-Mission.org

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