News 6, Addition Financial debut Make Ends Meet fund

Substitute teacher latest unemployed mom in need of financial lifeline

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – When Jamie Lynn Austera was finally accepted into the Osceola County school district’s education program as a substitute teacher last December she thought her financial stress was over, the coronavirus pandemic changed that.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Austera said.

Without a Florida teaching certificate, the Maryland transplant is not allowed to handle distance learning programs so her only alternative is unemployment benefits which she said has been a dead end.

“I can’t get through unemployment (website) I just keep trying and trying, she told News 6, “I even applied for food stamps, Medicaid, temporary cash, everything.”

Austera is the latest unemployed single mom faced with a dwindling bank account and no help from the state’s frazzled unemployment system.

Her 17-year-old daughter has been in tears wondering if they will be living in her mom’s car by the end of the month.

“I don’t even have words,” she said, “the government has let a lot of people down.”

Since March, News 6 has featured single parents juggling dwindling bank accounts and past due bills after their jobs were eliminated because of the coronavirus shutdown.

The reports have inspired residents to donate thousands of dollars with stimulus checks and personal savings.

[RELATED: Unemployed Florida mom gets surprise Mother’s Day gift from News 6 viewer]

Vivian Cribbs of Panama City Beach received more than $2000 dollars from viewers after she was featured in a Make Ends Meet report last week.

“By Monday I wouldn’t have had power, I wouldn’t have had water,” she said Wednesday, “ You’re interview changed everything for me, you really get results and make ends meet.”

As more and more viewers have offered financial gifts to families featured on the segment there was a demand for a fund to get the money to them.

News 6 and Addition Financial have created a fund designated for families and viewers have offered to help.

“We’re partnering with WKMG-TV because, when it comes to helping you make ends meet, you can count on us!”

If you want to help Austera and her daughter or you have a story you want to share email Mike Holfeld: mholfeld@wkmg.com.

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