To read the article from the Tampa Bay Times, visit http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/thank-you-us-taxpayers/1205370
Sitting on the floor of her furnished living room, Keira Sloan Scholz stacks blocks with her son. As soon as she builds a tower, her son knocks it down with his chubby hand, squealing with laughter. The gregarious little boy is a smaller, chubbier version of Scholz’s husband Nick, who recently graduated from UVU with degree in Communications and a minor in Digital Media. Scholz and her family are happy and healthy. When considering Scholz’s own situation when she was her son’s age, it seems like a miracle things turned out so well. The only reason Scholz’s is alive and well today is due to the social programs that taxpayers help fund. And she wanted to tell them all thank you.
Scholz’s upbringing was less than ideal. She was the first of six children who were born to an uneducated single mother who was also a prostitute and a meth addict. Unable to support her children on her own, Scholz’s family relied on social programs such as Medicaid, Women, Infants, Children (WIC), Food Stamps, food banks and free breakfast and lunches at public schools. It was through these programs that Scholz was fed, kept warm and healthy and educated. Looking back on her life, the soon to be 24 year old wife and mother wanted to somehow thank the taxpayers whose dollars helped her become who she is today.
In Nov. 2011, Scholz wrote a thank you letter on her blog that was addressed as “Dear American Taxpayers.” In the letter, Scholz outlines in a matter of fact tone the circumstances of her childhood. The first line simply yet powerfully states, “My name is Keira (Sloan) Scholz, I am twenty-three years old. I am a daughter of a prostitute, meth-addicted, uneducated single mother of six children.”
Scholz remembers little of her earlier childhood, mostly due to the fact her family moved around so much. “We lived in Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah,” Scholz said. They ended up in Utah after Scholz’s mother divorced from her third husband and lived. in government subsidized housing. Scholz was in the fifth grade. Her family had lived in subsidized housing before but they were no where near as nice as the ones in Utah. “Utah government subsidized housing is really nice compared to the others,” Scholz said. In her letter, Scholz addresses living in subsidized housing. “These houses were a little sparse, but they were always clean, always safe, and always in good repair. Comparatively, I lived in pretty safe neighborhoods as well, and I was always sad when we had to move from the housing.”
Scholz remembers her mom before she became addicted to meth. “She was a good mom before the meth,” Scholz said. Her mom began doing meth with a relation of her fifth husband became a dealer. Scholz was 12 years old. Now, nearly 12 years later, Scholz states that her mother has never been off of meth for more than 90 days. “She is bipolar,” Scholz said. “The meth makes the bipolar even worse.”
When Scholz was 15, it was decided that her mother was no longer fit to raise her children. With her youngest sibling already adopted to another family, Scholz’s remaining four younger sibling’s were given back to their perspective fathers. Since there was no record of Scholz’s father, she was sent to foster care. She lived with two separate foster families, the second one becoming her permanent home. In this family, Scholz thrived. “They stayed involved in my life,” Scholz said. Not only did her foster family raise her and take care of her but also paid for her wedding and were present when her son was born. “They treat me like their own daughter,” Scholz said. “They were everything a foster family should be.”
Scholz’s letter of gratitude received national attention when it was republished in the Tampa Bay Times opinion’s section. She was contacted by Robyn E. Blummer, a Times Columnist. “She was really inspired by the message of gratitue,” Scholz said. Blummer had recently survived breast cancer and connected with the feelings of thanksgiving. On Dec. 11, Scholz’s letter was republished on the Tampa Bay Times’s opinion section page.
Though the response has been mostly positive to Scholz’s letter, some have used to the letter to further promote their own political agendas. “I knew someone would use it as a way to express their political views,” Scholz said. However, she reiterated the fact the letter was in no way political, rather just a way to thank those anonymous taxpayers for helping her when she needed it the most.
By Kelly Cannon – Life Editor
Photos by Gilbert Cisneros