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by Abigail Van Buren

One Woman's Success Story May Affect Welfare of Others

DEAR ABBY: I can relate to "Elizabeth B. in Fresno, Calif.," who is struggling on welfare and has to contend with the disapproval of others. When I was 19, my husband walked out on me and our infant. I had nowhere else to turn, and was on welfare from 1975 to 1978.

Abby, after I received my AFDC check and paid my rent, phone and light bills, I had $5 left each month. Food stamps cannot be used to purchase diapers, toiletries or even laundry detergent. If it hadn't been for my family sharing these items with me, I don't know what would have happened to us. Because I was so embarrassed by the disparaging looks I received, I tried to shop for groceries when the store was least busy.

Things began to turn around when my case worker phoned to tell me about a job that was available through the CETA (Comprehensive Employment Training Act) program. My first job was clerking for the Department of Public Assistance. While I was learning skills, I was earning an income, and I have been working ever since.

Hang in there, Elizabeth, and don't give up. I know it's hard to ignore the nasty remarks and looks, but someone will give you your chance. I have owned my own business for eight years now, and I would hire you. -- WORKED OFF WELFARE

DEAR WORKED OFF WELFARE: I'm printing your success story for Elizabeth and others like her to see. You are a voice for people everywhere who have struggled through difficult periods and pulled through -- not only intact, but improved. My hat's off to you.

For readers who are interested, the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) replaced CETA in 1983. Its purpose is to assist youths and unskilled adults enter the labor force. For more information, contact your state employment office.

DEAR ABBY: Every member of my family has two children. My husband and I have one child.

At birthday time, we invite 20 cousins to a party, yet only 10 gifts are received -- and they are not doubly expensive either.

Abby, I think each child should give a gift, not just one gift from each family. After all, throughout the year, we give 20 gifts and host 20 children at our child's birthday party.

Fair play would dictate that each child bring a gift -- or at least make the "family" gift slightly more significant.

I hate to appear petty, but after five years of this inequality, I'm angry and disappointed that my relatives haven't figured this out themselves.

Is there a tactful way for me to mention it? -- P.O.'D IN NEW YORK

DEAR P.O.'D: There is no tactful way to remind your relatives that you are spending twice as much for birthday gifts as they are. They surely are aware of it, so for you to "mention" it would be in extremely poor taste.

DEAR ABBY: Help! We named our daughter after both of her grandmothers. The first name is after her paternal grandmother and the middle name after her maternal grandmother. On her birth certificate, I spelled the middle name differently because I thought it looked better.

Now my mother says her granddaughter is not named after her because the spelling is different. I say, so what? She is named after both grandmothers. What do you say? -- NEEDS YOUR OPINION IN N.C.

DEAR NEEDS: I agree with you -- so what? Your daughter is named after both grandmothers regardless of how the name is spelled.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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