A woman from Raleigh will be featured on Diane Sawyer’s “My Reality: A Hidden America,” a special edition of ABC News “2020” that tells the stories of working-class Americans from across the country.
In “Hidden Americas,” which will air on ABC on Friday at 10 p.m., Kimberly Thomas and other workers across the U.S. will share their experience of fighting to stay in or enter the middle class. Thomas is a Triangle home care aid who says she works more than 100 hours every week.
On an average weekday, she wakes up around 4:30 a.m. and drives to her clients’ homes to bathe them and get them dressed for the day. She makes sure they take their medicine and eat regular meals and takes them to activities such as physical therapy.
“They’re my sweethearts,” Thomas, who works for three different agencies, said in an interview with The News & Observer. “It’s an important job. I’m their voice when they can’t talk. People like me provide them with their quality of life at the end of their life.”
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After finishing her cases around 6 p.m., Thomas heads to WakeMed hospital in Raleigh where she does similar work. Sometimes she sleeps in her car in between jobs, too tired and busy to go home.
Thomas has become a vocal activist for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. North Carolina employs more than 47,000 home health aides, according to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean hourly wage for aides is $9.46 and $19,680 annually.
“It’s unreal, unbelievable,” Thomas said. “There has to be some kind of compromise. You’re not taking care of the people who are taking care of people. This job is a hidden job.”
Sawyer, who previously anchored morning and evening programs on ABC News, spent more than a year reporting and interviewing people in cities throughout the U.S. Her team reached out to Thomas about appearing on the special several months ago.
“It was a no-brainer,” Thomas said. “We need to get the word out because this impacts so many different people. Everybody needs to benefit from raising pay.”
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler