Determination pays off for single mother of three

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal (file)

Teri Clavet, 25, feeds lunch to her twin 19-month-old daughters Salina Nichols, left, and Aliana Nichols at their central Maine apartment last May. Clavet, a single mom, also has a 7-year-old daughter Anjee.

Teri Clavet just moved into a three-bedroom apartment. She's found a job.

Her three children are happy, and she's in a happy place.

On Mother's Day, Clavet was featured in a Sun Journal article: She was part of a trend in single women in Maine having more babies. At the time of the story, she was 25 and mom to a 7-year-old daughter and 19-month-old twins. She didn't have a car or a job, and was receiving state aid.

Clavet had moved from Lewiston to a central Maine town to get away from a bad relationship.

Five feet tall, she was fed up with the sideways glances from people who assumed she was younger than her actual years and questioned her choices.

"I get these nasty looks in Walmart," Clavet said at the time. "Everybody who sees a single parent in the store ought to high-five them. That would be nice."

Clavet found a cleaning job this summer at a property management company. Now she's doing maintenance work, cleaning and painting apartments to get them ready for new rentals. It's within walking distance, with a flexible schedule — 60 hours every two weeks.

"I love it," Clavet, 26, said.

Twins Salina and Aliana are in day care full time, with state help to defray some of that cost. The girls can count to 15 in English and 20 in French. They also adore their new playmates.

The twins and their older sister, Anjee, 8, no longer have to share a room. The larger apartment they moved into in December affords them plenty of space.

"(Anjee) loves her new room," Clavet said. "She's got her Justin Bieber posters on her wall."

Clavet left the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in late summer. She said she can make ends meet without it. When she receives her income tax return this spring, she plans to buy a car — and she can't wait.

"To be able to do my own groceries and go see my friends and not have to worry about paying people if the twins' day care calls me because they're sick," she said.

Clavet's decided she'd like to go back to school to become a plumber, and eventually an electrician.

"I'm very proud of myself," she said. "I knew that I wasn't going to stop pushing until I got a job and got where I needed to be by myself. I didn't think I'd be doing this for work. But I'm happy with my job. I love my new apartment. My kids are so much happier now. They have room to run around."

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Tina Ouellette's picture


Great job Teri!!! you can be a great roll model to other mothers out there!!

 's picture

Congrats Teri! This is what

Congrats Teri! This is what is suppose to happen with state aid, however damn few ever do it. 25 yrs ago, I had a 2 yr old, had recently lost twins to a freak accident and was 6 months pregnant when my husband decided we no longer "worked" never heard from him again, or saw a dime. I went on state aid, I was mortified, and everyone at the grocery store was soooo judgmental! However, I was able to attend nursing school (through sheer determination) and wanting to be self sufficient. I was after 11/2 yrs on welfare and spending every second of free time come off welfare! Plus anything you do in health will always have work.
Teri I wish there were more people like you on welfare! What the government should do is, if your on have to choose from a list of trade jobs....I.e CNA, machinist, truck driving..ect. Then they can be off welfare in 2 yrs. and they have marketable skills. Health care no matter what job is a good choice and maine is in need of machinists, big time.

Catherine Pressey's picture

No salt into the happiness:

The new apartment must be subsidized the figures do not add up.! Takes lots of money to pay rent and all the other bills on a 60 hour job every other week. Still I vote she push forward to be the electrician, as my dad was. And I being female and now in my sixties, wish I had gone that route, so like the others good for you and go for it. I pat you on the back, you can do anything if you work hard enough.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Good for you Teri

Good for you Teri. You did exactly what TANF is for.

 's picture

good for her. thats what a

good for her. thats what a real single mother does, works hard to improve her life and that of her children. instead of whinning that the welfare payments weren't enough, she pushed herself up. we need more women like her, with the drive to be a positive inspiration. keep it up!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Determination pays off for single mother of three

Kate 12.01.01 19:50 hst ? Tuesday still . ..
Nice story ?  You go girl . ..
/s , a single father of four ( & widower :)


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