When Margaret Peters decided to return to school in pursuit of a career that would support her family, she wondered how she would ever afford the gas it took to drive from home to the school she chose in Phoenix.
Although the single mother of five children -- ages 6, 8, 12, 14 and 18 -- found her job at a domestic violence shelter rewarding, financially, she just was not able to make ends meet.
"So, I decided to go back to school," Peters wrote in a letter to the Mogollon Health Alliance.
Peters was looking for a career that would allow her time to keep her family as her number one priority while she made a living.
She chose massage therapy.
"There are so many people living with pain and everyone deserves to be pain-free," Peters wrote.
Working as a therapist, she hopes to alleviate some of that pain and make people feel good.
Her commute to the Phoenix Therapeutic Massage College is 90 miles each way and gas is creeping toward $3 a gallon. Instead of giving up her education because she couldn't afford the drive, Peters applied to the Mogollon Health Alliance for mileage funds they receive through the Arizona Health Education Center.
MHA saw merit in her request and helped her cover the cost of the commute.
After 14 months, Peters is now a licensed massage therapist at Payson Day Spa.
Her new career has given her the ability to catch up on her bills, keep food on the table and, most importantly, spend time with her family.
"It is the most amazing feeling to be self-sufficient," she wrote in a letter of thanks to MHA. "Today, I am an independent woman, raising five beautiful children. (MHA's) assistance has made an enormous difference to me and my family."
The mileage program is available to qualified applicants through the Mogollon Health Alliance.
If you are currently a student enrolled in a health profession educational program and have to commute to school, you qualify for travel reimbursement. However, because of the limited dollar amount, this assistance is given on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited number of students.
The Arizona Health Education Center is a nonprofit organization designed to recruit and develop rural, minority and disadvantaged students to serve in the medically underserved and rural communities of Arizona.
For more information, contact MHA at 308 E. Aero Drive in Payson, call (928) 472-2588 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.