Thursday, May 09, 2002

A helping hand

Sure-fire return on investment

        My investments are not doing so well. My financial adviser told me to put all my money in the stock market. Then he told me not to panic, that things would get better. Then he told me I was lucky to have my health.

        I am trying to diversify, but my lottery portfolio has not matured and the wrong horse won the Derby. On my way to work, I am taunted by the unlovely sight of our community's half-billion-dollar investment in a football palace, which hasn't paid off either.

        So, I am still looking for a really good bet. A tip came from an unlikely source.

Blue chip tip

        “There's something going on this Saturday that I think you might want to know about,” the tipster said. A doughnut sale at Busken's? Free liposuction to the first 500 fat people?

        She says it involves two women who are not trying to sell me anything.

        The first one is Jodi Walker, who will enter the Ph.D. program at Wright State University this fall. The Finneytown resident won a full scholarship and a job as a teaching assistant. This is a person who dropped out of high school at age 15 to care for her first son.

        By the time she was 17, Jodi and her husband had another son. Then another. She heard about Job Corps. This is an investment of federal money. The dividend is a job. Jodi left Job Corps with a GED, a driver's license and secretarial training. Then she entered Cincinnati State College.

        There, she maintained a 4.0 grade point average. After two years, she transferred her credits there to the College of Mount St. Joseph. By this time, she had four sons and a divorce. A single mom with her youngest only 3 years old.

        And then yet another clever investment was made.

        MSJ has a day-care center for its students. Really it's an accredited learning center, heavily subsidized by the college itself and by federal grants. Jodi paid a modest amount of money for a very big service. Both she and her son studied at the Mount for three years.

Trickle-down economics

        College isn't cheap. Tuition at the Mount is $14,200 annually, and Jodi says she owes about $50,000 in student loans. But she figures she now is well prepared to work off the debt. She'll graduate this Saturday.

        So will Karen VandeRyt. After high school in the early 1980s, Karen earned a college scholarship. She dropped out to marry and have children. By 1990, she was on welfare. Her husband was gone and she was a single mother of six children, living in a mobile home. Three of her kids have neurofibromatosis, known as Elephant Man's disease.

        Every one of her children has been diagnosed with learning disabilities — strong motivation for Karen's career choice.

        Three years ago, Karen enrolled at the Mount as a special education major. She will teach at Colerain High School this summer and in the Northwest School District next year.

        Another success story.

        And when a parent gets a better shot at life, it is true trickle-down economics. Statistically, her children are more likely to finish school, find a job, need less help from the rest of us over their lifetimes.

        We've invested in two successful mothers with a total of 10 children.

        The potential dividends are huge.

        E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393. She can be heard Fridays at noon on WVXU radio (91.7 FM).


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