Sharisse Hancock shares her experience during the COVID-19 pandemic in Madison. She talks about the financial hardships her family has experienced throughout the pandemic. She describes an incident of COVID exposure, and reflects on how quarantine periods and time at home over the past year have brought her family closer together. Sharisse also shares how her faith has uplifted her and her church community even when it's not possible to gather inside of the church itself.
Narrator Name: Sharisse Hancock
Interviewer Name: Andres Torres
Date of interview: 1/15/2021
[00:00:01] Start of interview
[00:00:30] What is your connection to Madison?
[00:00:55] Can you tell us about your experience during this pandemic?
[00:01:59] How has school changed for your children?
[00:02:45] Have there been any other factors contributing to financial strain in your household?
[00:03:32] Have you had issues accessing aid?
[00:04:18] How many people do you have in your household?
[00:05:03] How did you find out that you had been exposed to someone?
[00:05:40] Has your faith played a big role in this pandemic for you?
[00:06:25] Is there a specific moment that stands out in this whole pandemic for you?
[00:07:10] Is there anything else you'd like to add today?
[00:08:31] End of interview
[START OF RECORDING]
Interviewer: Hello. My name is Andres Torres. I'm a library assistant with Madison Public Library. Today I'm here with Stories from a Distance, which is part of the Living History Project. It's an archive with stories and testimonials from people living in and around Madison. And now, I'd like to welcome today's narrator. Hello. Could you please introduce yourself?
Sharisse Hancock: Yes! Hi, my name is Sharisse Hancock.
Interviewer: Thanks for being here with us today, Sharisse. Can you tell us a little bit about your connection to Madison?
Sharisse Hancock: Yes. So I've been in Madison my whole life, since I was born. And I have family here, I have a child here. And Madison is near and dear to me, I imagine because I've been here my whole life.
Interviewer: So Madison is your home.
Sharisse Hancock: Yes, it is.
Interviewer: OK. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience during this pandemic?
Sharisse Hancock: You know, the pandemic has caused some financial hardship. I mean, that's one of the main things. It also has allowed families to become closer I believe, in a way, because you are around each other so much more often. Your children are doing virtual school. There's a lot more financial responsibility for not only breakfast and dinner, but then you have that lunch component. And so that's where some of the financial strain has come from, but, you know, a couple of times I had to be on the two-week quarantine. And to be honest with you, I became a lot closer to the people that I love, through those experiences.
Interviewer: So you mentioned that you have some kids in school.
Sharisse Hancock: Yes, a daughter.
Interviewer: How has school changed for your children?
Sharisse Hancock: It hasn't changed for Aliana too much. She's a 4.0 student, and she's still a 4.0 student with virtual. So it hasn't affected her. But I think for some other students, it may be problematic, because they need that one-on-one, in-person interaction in order to succeed.
Sharisse Hancock: So I think if you're self-driven and self-motivated, then virtual is just fine. But I think if you need a little extra, you know, just one-on-one attention, I think that it is a lot more difficult for those that need that.
Interviewer: Have there been any other factors contributing to financial strain in your household?
Sharisse Hancock: Well, I think that -- my partner, her Social Security check was reduced, like, right at the beginning of the pandemic, and why I don't know. I sent in proof to the Social Security Administration that her income had not changed, and that literally has gone on for almost a year. And then they brought it back up to what it used to be. So I think that also my partner's reduction in Social Security benefits made a financial strain on us as well. And it was right when, you know, the pandemic was coming into effect probably last January. And then this January, they brought her back up to what she was before, and a little bit higher than that.
Interviewer: Have you had any issues accessing aid?
Sharisse Hancock: No, I haven't had any issues. I was able to get some rental assistance from the Tenant Resource Center. Of course, that was one month, but one month is beneficial, because our rent is $900, and we don't have any rental assistance or subsidies. So we're not on Section 8 or anything like that. We pay the full $900. We pay our heat, you know, heat and electric, both. So it was helpful, the Tenant Resource Center funds that they had. I think it was back in–oh, gosh, maybe August, if I remember correctly.
Interviewer: Yes. You mentioned–can you tell us a little bit about how many people you have in your household?
Sharisse Hancock: Yes, so my partner and my daughter and myself. So my daughter's 13. My partner's 45, and I'm 38.
Interviewer: And you've had a lot more time to, kind of, get to know everyone?
Sharisse Hancock: Oh yes. Well, we knew each other before (laughs). But I just feel like it brought us a little closer. And I think that was through those two times we had to do the two-week quarantine because we were exposed to someone that had coronavirus. We did not get it. We were tested; we were negative. But yes, it was helpful in a way.
Interviewer: So how did that work? How did you find out that you had been exposed to someone?
Sharisse Hancock: Well, it was actually one of my partner's family members ended up having it Thanksgiving, when we saw them, OK? And they didn't find out until after Thanksgiving that they had it. And there's no way to tell–you know, so I just had to quarantine because of that.
Interviewer: Yes, so -- wow, you got lucky there.
Sharisse Hancock: Yes. I feel -- no, I don't really think lucky, I think blessed. You know, I believe in God, and I think that God blesses you in so many ways and that was just one of them.
Interviewer: Has your faith played a big role in this pandemic for you?
Sharisse Hancock: You know, it has. I have to say my life isn't that much different, as far as being at home. I was kind of a homebody before, but it was just when it first came out, and everything was just so scary, and Oh my gosh, you know? Like I said, my life wasn't that much different. So this wasn't unusual for me to spend days at a time at home. Except for when the kids were in school, you dropped them off and pick them up and there's more activities. Mostly everything is virtual now. So.
Interviewer: Is there a specific moment that stands out in this whole pandemic for you?
Sharisse Hancock: Yes. My church, when things had to go all virtual, we ended up having parking lot services up until mid-November. And those were so just encouraging, and lifted people's spirits, and lifted people's spirits in the neighborhood, because we were outdoors in the parking lot. Of course, we were sitting six feet apart and everything like that, but neighbors donated money to our church. They talked about how much it uplifted them. The news did a story on my church, and so that really stands out as something that, you know, church is in you. It's not the building.
Interviewer: Indeed. Is there anything else you'd like to add today?
Sharisse Hancock: I don't think so. Is there anything else that you'd like to know?
Interviewer: I would like to know whatever you would like to tell me.
Sharisse Hancock: I think that the opportunities that, educationally, for my daughter before are still there. She just participated in an incubator camp through CEOs of Tomorrow. And she won first place. So she got a $500 scholarship for her first year in college, and then $500 cash for winning. And she had to launch her own business, her social issue was obesity. And due to me being obese–she's not obese, but I am. And that was really–it was just beautiful how she formed her business. She made healthy boxes that had resistance bands, three exercise links, a water bottle, and a stress ball. And she gave a presentation on how all of those things are so connected to obesity. So that was excellent.
Interviewer: Yes, that's wonderful.
Sharisse Hancock: And I was so glad she was still able to do it in lieu of–in spite of the pandemic.
Interviewer: Definitely. Well, Sharisse, thank you so much for doing this interview today.
Sharisse Hancock: Oh, sure.
[END OF RECORDING]