An Irishwoman looking after her little great granddaughter alone was chosen as one of The New York Times neediest cases this Christmas.
Kathy Mallon, now 64, looks after the little girl, Tianna, after her grand daughter became addicted to drugs and gave birth at 17.
Soon after, she was arrested and had to give up the child. Kathy Mallon found the little girl “in the police station, gripping a dirty blanket, her teeth rotting. “
That was over two years ago, and Mallon has been caring for Tianna ever since.
“She was so bad when I got her,” Ms. Mallon recalled one Sunday afternoon. “She was like a cat — scratch your eyes out,” she said. “She’s done a 180.”
Because the child has health issues, Mallon had to give up her job as a health care aide and survive on social security.
She receives $355 a month from social security, $345 in Social Security disability benefits, and gets $367 in food stamps. Her rent is $1,054 a month.
Nevertheless she is totally committed to the little girl.
Mallon left Ireland at 17 where she was mopping floors in a convent, “I climbed the gate to get out of there,” she told The Times
She moved to Rockaway in Queens to join her sister.
“I came to Rockaway, and from Rockaway I never left,” said Ms. Mallon, now 64 and a great-grandmother.
She married but her husband proved abusive. “I don’t need a guy to beat me to prove that he loves me,” she said.
She raised three kids on her own while working as a bartender. Her son proved to have bipolar illness and became a bad drug addict.
“I have never seen a generation like this,” she said, talking about drug use, and describing her son as “totally out of control.”
His daughter inherited his illness and then had Tianna, who has a seizure disorder, which means she cannot be left on her own.
Over the summer, Mallon’s electricity bill went to $1,331.90, and she contacted the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged.
But for Tianna, Mallon said, she would never have asked for help. “I’d sell my soul to keep her,” she said. “I just want to give her a nice place to live.”
Mallon says she’d love to visit Atlantic City or play Bingo. “But what I’m doing now, I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” Getting up every morning and looking at that face? I love hearing I’m her best friend.”
Anyone wishing to help Kate Mallon can go to www.nytneediestcases.com to donate.