It was an unlikely start to a friendship. Mindy Shoestock, 31, a single mother of three, was assigned to see Aleta Monececchi, a 49-year-old social worker in North Adams, Mass., after she’d fought with another parent in an early-education program for low-income families. Life was hard for Shoestock, who had been working the night shift as a supervisor at McDonald’s for $16,000 a year. The Boston Globe even profiled her in a 2011 article about the difficulties of the poor in western Massachusetts. But Monececchi saw past her client’s past mistakes and became her friend and advocate.
Monececchi, who was inspired by Shoestock’s desire to make a better life for her children, started visiting her in her free time, and led her church in donating Christmas toys for Shoestock’s kids. Shoestock wanted to do something in return, so she started volunteering at the church’s spaghetti dinners. Next, Monececchi found Shoestock a temporary job interviewing people applying for help with fuel at the Berkshire Community Action Council. Shoestock is earning just a little more than she did at McDonald’s, but now she can work while her kids are at school, and her holidays are paid—last Thanksgiving was the first time she’d ever experienced a paid holiday from work. “I don’t go home smelling like french fries,” Shoestock told Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe. “I feel fantastic, like I’m moving forward.”