In the early 1990s, Leslie Scofield was a single mom and college student with three kids.
Times were tough for her family. She relied on government assistance and a caring Nebraska Health and Human Services caseworker.
She’s not sure, but she believes that caseworker gave her name to The World-Herald’s Goodfellows fund so she could receive vouchers for holiday meals. That helped her feed the kids at Christmas for several years, she said.
Now she has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is nearly done with a master’s degree in public health. She works as the director of first responder education in the Center for Preparedness Education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a joint project with Creighton University Medical Center.
And, feeling blessed, she’s giving back.
Scofield and her husband, Bryan, donated $100 to Goodfellows this year “in honor of those of us who have received Goodfellows vouchers in past years.”
Receiving aid all those years ago “was very humbling and very meaningful ... it made a world of difference,” she said in an interview.
“I have a wonderful job and a wonderful career, so I’m able to pay back,” she said. “I’ve tried to move away from the commercialism of what Christmas has become. I have a wonderful husband, and that helps too.”
She also has donated her time in the past to work with domestic violence victims. She said that’s something she may do again after she receives her master’s degree.
The former teen mom said her kids are grown and successful. A daughter, for example, spent time with Teach for America at a school in Mississippi.
Scofield, 46, wants people to know that with the exception of a few, those who need public assistance aren’t out to bilk the system, and they’re not doomed to a life of underachievement.
She’d love to find that former caseworker and give her an update.
“I’d say, ‘Whatever you did, I know you made a difference.’ ”