This is the story of Maria Gil, a working-poor single mom trying to make a life in Lubbock with her four-year-old daughter. Photojournalist Geoffrey McAllister introduced me to Maria in July 2009. She allowed us to follow her through some extremely difficult times.
Read it here at Lubbockonline.com. (Note, the following PDF file is from our proofs, hence the headline quirk.)
Maintaining ethical distance as a four-year-old risked homelessness offered us some of the most difficult decisions I’ve faced as a journalist. The writing, too, posed challenges — showing the true Maria, a flawed mother whose decisions at times undermined her efforts. Much of the reporting was done in our spare time; Geoffrey and I would peel away from our normal beat responsibilities or on weekends as another piece of Maria’s story unfolded. Our reward was work that showed a side of Lubbock few readers seemed to believe existed, and faced by far more residents than many realized.
Happy Who Endure received first place for feature writing in the Texas Press Association’s 2010 Better Newspaper Contest. Geoffrey McAllister received first place in the Morris Journalism Excellence Awards for photography tied to the story. The in-chain awards judges also awarded an honorable mention for writing.