A woman, who received a handwritten letter from President Obama regarding her financial woes, has reportedly sold the correspondence to pay for her home and medical bills.

Jennifer Cline of Monroe, Mich., a wife and mother of two, wrote a three-page letter on notebook paper to Obama in December 2009.

“I lost my job, my health benefits and my self-worth in a matter of five days,” she wrote. She later expounded on her situation, including her diagnoses with two types of skin cancer, her lack of insurance and her husband’s failed business. A bright spot was her ability to return to Monroe Community College after unemployment benefits were extended. She thanked Obama for this.

He wrote back saying “I know times are tough, but knowing there are folks out there like you and your husband give me confidence that things will keep getting better!”

Yet Cline has not been unable to reach financial stability since sending her letter and sold Obama’s response for $7,000 to autograph collector Gary Zimet late last month. The letter is now for sale on Zimet’s website, momentsintime.com, which boasts “autographs of U.S. presidents and original letters, manuscripts and signed photos of famous people.”

Cline’s note and Obama’s response are now promoted front and center on the site. “The letter is a historical document, and … handwritten letters of any sitting president on White House letterhead are extremely rare,” Zimet told The New York Post. “I don’t think she’s disillusioned with Obama – this is just about surviving and practicality. She is selling it to pay for a house, which I think is poetic justice.”

Cline told a UK news outlet that she cried when handing over the letter but knew selling it was the right decision. “I needed to do what’s best for my family,” she said, “and this was best for my family.”

 

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO