Tiffany’s Story

A Vehicle is a Lifeline

Ways to Work Extra-Mile Program helps a mom get back up on her feet.

Tiffany Hawkins was like any other mother balancing work, family time and getting her son to school and activities when everything began to crumble around her. When rising rent prices forced Tiffany to relocate to Wilkinsburg from the North Side, she got up early to drive her son to school each day and was able to make ends meet until she suddenly lost her job. 

Bills piled up. The refrigerator was empty. She and her son lost all their clothes during a bedbug infestation. The electric was shut off. And then, her van broke down, her only means to drive her son to school on the North Side. Tiffany struggled to get him to school each day, and soon truancy officers came knocking. 

Tiffany was losing hope. “I lost my pride, my dignity, my job, my car – everything,” Tiffany said. “I went to food banks to feed my son and was starting to feel truly hopeless.” Tiffany turned to Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania for help and was referred to Family Services of Western Pennsylvania’s Ways to Work Extra-Mile Program, which helps women with a one-time grant for car repairs. This program is funded by United Way’s United for Women initiative. 

After attending financial literacy classes to learn how to create a monthly budget and track her spending, Tiffany received a grant from the Extra-Mile program that paid for the repairs to her van and helped her get back on her feet. 

Now, Tiffany is back at work, driving her son to school and herself to work every day in that same repaired van. She encourages anyone in need to reach out for help. “After getting the grant, I felt like I could breathe again. There really are people out there who want to help.”

For more information about United Way’s work to support Financially Struggling Families, visit