PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s no such thing as an easy morning for 19-year-old single mother Lynnise Barham.
“I take the first bus, get off by the bridge, walk across the bridge, walk to East Carson and get on the 51 and go all the way up the hill, take her to daycare,” said Barham.
She takes three buses just to get to work. She’s only 19 and her daughter, La’Rae, turns 4-years-old next month.
“People be like, ‘How do you do it?’ and I just be like, God made a way and I got legs,” Barham said.
Legs and a solid work ethic that her managers at the South Side’s Fudge Farm spotted instantly.
“Lynisse came to us through the Learn and Earn program, which is sponsored by Goodwill,” said Molly Rainey, owner of Fudge Farm. “Every year, they send us anywhere between three and 10 youths for a summer program.”
At-risk youth who are hoping to land a permanent position. Molly and her husband, Walt Rainey, hired Lynnise immediately. But one day shortly after, they noticed something that shocked them.
“It was very early, maybe 6 a.m., and I just immediately noticed a kid walking across the bridge. So it grabbed my attention and when I turned my head to look, it was Lynnise,” said Walt.
The couple didn’t know the lengths Barham went to just to open up the store each morning.
“At that point, we made the decision to say we need to step in,” said Walt.
With no car, Barham saw no point in trying to earn a driver’s license, but she did have her permit.
“So for about the last two months, every Sunday afternoon, we did practice driving and parallel parking,” said Molly.
“My managers are taking their time out of whatever they have to do, to teach me how to park and drive … you don’t get a lot of people like that,” said Barham.
After weeks of practice, she passed her driver’s test on the first try. Now, the Rainey’s launched a fundraiser to buy her a reliable vehicle to keep her life headed down this positive track.
“We’ve had business owners, we’ve had friends, family, strangers and folks come out and say we want to support this cause, and we think it’s the right thing to do and we think it’s worthwhile,” said Walt.
Barham can’t believe the support.
“They had so many good compliments on me and I’m just like, what have I been doing? I just work. But I know once I’m focused on something, I want to get it done,” the 19-year-old said.
She’s focused on starting at the Community College of Allegheny County this week to work toward becoming a medical assistant.
The Rainey’s hope the car will be life-changing for Barham, who can use it for her job, school and daughter. The Fudge Farm is hosting an online fundraiser and an in-store fundraiser at the end of the month.