A Florida mom who lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic has been relying on her children’s lemonade stand to make ends meet.
Erin Bailey owned and ran a successful lawn care business in Palm Springs. But as the pandemic spread, her list of clients quickly dwindled — and now she has none.
“I was so excited to finally have my own business and it was going so well, then all of a sudden everything just stopped. I was so happy and proud, and now I feel like a failure,” Bailey, a single mom to four children, told CNN.
“It’s always been just me, looking for help that wasn’t coming,” she added, while fighting back tears. “It got so hopeless. It just feels like you’re walking around in the dark and bumping into everything. You just feel so alone, like everyone else is OK but you’re the only one that’s not.”
Bailey said the family receives government help in the form of food stamps, but they don’t last long enough. About 27 million American workers filed for jobless assistance during the week ending August 8, highlighting how hard the pandemic has hit American families.
She tried to revive her lawn care business, but most of her clients are afraid to contract the virus and don’t want her coming to their homes. School closures exacerbated the problem, as she couldn’t find a safe place to put her kids while she looked for other work.
Out of options, the struggling mom turned to her children’s lemonade stand to support the family.
For the past six months, Bailey and her four kids — who are between 6 to 10 years old — have spent their mornings making lemonade, packing pitchers into a cooler, and standing outside in the hot sun selling cool drinks to neighbors.
The business is by no means lucrative. They usually earn about $30 a day, she said, which is enough to afford that night’s dinner and some necessities, like toilet paper.
Bailey often skips meals to ensure her kids always have something to eat.
“We use the lemonade stand money to stock up, but there were days when I would barely eat in case one of them gets hungry later. It’s just a fear I can’t make go away,” she said.
Her biggest fear is losing their home. The family is already behind on rent and bills are piling up.
To help pay down the debt, Bailey’s children gave her their lemonade savings, which they had stashed away for toys and other fun stuff.
“They’ve been so positive and just an amazing help. They don’t know the full extent of what’s going on because I do my best to shelter them from the reality,” Bailey said. “Sometimes it means smiling a lot and acting happy no matter how stressed out it gets, no matter how lost I feel, just for them.”
Still, things are starting to look up.
Bailey created a GoFundMe campaign asking kind strangers for help, and has already gotten about $25,000 in donations.
“We are extremely grateful to those that we have met along this rough patch,” she said on the fundraising website. “We still have a long road ahead of us (getting caught back up and finding a new place) so thank you so much for the chance to get back on our feet.”
And with schools returning to in-person classes on Monday, Bailey will soon begin looking for a more stable job.