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Hands To Work: The Stories Of Three Families Racing The Welfare Clock
by LynNell Hancock
Publisher: Morrow 2002
Category: Non-fiction20th centuryBronx
Avg Rating: (0 reviews)
In this illuminating examination of the current state of welfare policy -- five years after the start of President Bill Clinton's Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 -- award-winning veteran reporter and writer LynNell Hancock offers an intimate, heart-wrenching, and beautifully rendered portrait of three women and their families as they struggle to find their way through the new rules and regulations of the public assistance system. "This new welfare world is an emerging, untested social experiment," the author writes, "one that has the potential to define what kind of nation we want to be, what kind of government we think is most fair. It's a political story. It's an economic story. It's a story about social reinvention. But in the end it is simply a human saga. It is about ordinary Americans trying to make a life for themselves, caught by an accident of timing in the wake of asocial experiment meant to change the course of their lives." As she examines the laws, policies, and reforms of the last decade, Hancock introduces us to the women who try to carve their futures around America's new commitment to the power of work. ALINA ZUKINA, a wispy refugee from the former Soviet nation of Moldova, hoped to become a doctor. She spent four years juggling a college education with a city workfare program that offered her a small check and an overcrowded schedule. CHRISTINE RIVERA, a proud Puerto Rican, was on her way to self-sufficiency when two things collided: her stubborn heroin addiction and the new welfare rules. BRENDA FIELDS, a feisty mother of two, was eager to embrace any job that might help her overcome her lack of a college degree and limited experience. Despite such resolve, she found that work did not provide all the answers. Hands to Work adds a human dimension to the facts and statistics, revealing these three families' histories, their initiation into the system, the obstacles they've faced, the choices they've made, and the futures they seek. Hancock takes us on a journey within the dayto-day struggles of these women, describing their hopes, regrets, and deepest dreams. In so doing, she demystifies contemporary misconceptions of poverty and illustrates how welfare policy and reform have been conceived, offering a thought-provoking look at the most divisive questions about America's neediest citizens.

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