Vera Pompper, 55, began waitressing at the age of fourteen. Born in Redwood City, California, she now lives with her husband and three children in Erial, New Jersey. Vera has always enjoyed waitressing. It has had its good days and bad days, but every day she worked, she saw it as having “more money than I came in with”, Vera commented. But the job is no longer advantageous as Vera gets older, because it does not provide any benefits. As a waitress, Vera is not offered plans for retirement and more importantly, health insurance.
For more than 20 years, Vera has undergone multiple surgeries and treatments for her kidneys. She continuously suffers from kidney stones and infections. Only six years ago, Vera was diagnosed with breast cancer. She remained strong and now, cancer free, Vera continues to work in order to provide for her family. Although her kidneys continue to cause her pain, Vera works six days a week so that her family is taken care of. And to Vera, she says, “It makes it all worth it.”
Vera Pompper pours cups of coffee for customers while she works at The Berlin Diner on November 28, 2013. It is Thanksgiving morning and Vera has a few more hours of work before she can head home to have dinner with her husband and children.
Vera Pompper helps her 10 year old daughter, Cheyenne, with her homework on November 26, 2013. Vera assists Cheyenne in reading a short story before cooking dinner at their home in Erial, New Jersey.
Vera Pompper assembles a cherry filled pastry on November 26, 2013. The desert will follow a delicious dinner that she has prepared for her family at their home in Erial, New Jersey.
Vera Pompper lays out her medications. She pinches the skin on her side while injecting Coumadin on November 26, 2013. Coumadin is a blood thinner and in her case, it treats the blood clots that were recently found in her legs. Vera injects herself with Coumadin twice a day, along with taking several other medications daily to treat her kidneys, blood clots and pain.
Vera Pompper’s waitressing book lays open with a stack of unpaid bills, some money and a photo of her 10 year old daughter, Cheyenne. Vera contemplates which bills need to be paid first and comments on the photo. Vera says, “I put the photo of Cheyenne in my book to help me get through the bad days. It reminds me of why I’m working so hard.”