By EWA KERN-JEDRYCHOWSKA
Susana Ramos, 35 and recently separated from her husband, lives in the Inwood section of Manhattan, in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in the back of the building, behind which black garbage bags pile up. She lives in that neighborhood to be close to her parents, so they can help her with her children when she is at work.
Three daughters — Yamilette, 10, Yaire, 9, and Yarette, 5 — share a room with their brother, Yahire, 7. There are three beds; Yaire and Yarette share. The baby, Yanizmarie, 1, sleeps with her mother, while Ms. Ramos’s oldest daughter, Daiylyn, 14, usually stays with grandparents.
Every evening, Ms. Ramos clips coupons. She has become so proficient, she says, that she can sometimes shave two-thirds off her grocery bill.
Coupons are just a small part of her routine. Her work hours were just cut, but she still finds every moment packed. Cooking, cleaning and helping children with their homework consume her days.
In her scant spare time, Ms. Ramos is involved in activities at Children’s Aid’s Dyckman Valley Early Head Start program in Public School 152, which Yanizmarie attends. Ms. Ramos is president of the parents committee of the Head Start expansion program and volunteers during many of the program’s events.