Embrace Iowa fund helps single mom with breast cancer pay rent, care for son with autism

Embrace Iowa fund helps single mom with breast cancer pay rent, care for son with autism

Special to the Register Jamie Manalili would like to be working, but over the last three years life has put one hurdle after another in her path. Three years ago, her then 2-year-old son Kenneth was diagnosed with autism. He’s non-verbal, is prone to self-destructive behavior if not closely supervised, and needs specialized, twice-daily therapy sessions. Manalili’s job at the time working in a Waterloo daycare center didn’t accommodate the schedule she needed to care for her son and take him to his appointments. The single mom decided to quit that job so she could focus on researching her options, taking her son to specialists, and getting him set up with his therapy before finding a job with a more flexible schedule. Then Manalili was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through treatment and several reconstructive surgeries, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit at a time when her immune system was already weakened by the therapies. “I’ve been working my whole life,” Manalili said. “I thought I’d get my son set up in his programs and then return right to work. But I keep getting derailed. Since the pandemic, I think there are lots of people in my position.” […]

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