In this extraordinary first book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author David Zucchino sets out to sift through the stereotypes, politics, and pure misinformation about families on welfare. A reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Zucchino gives us an intimate look at Odessa Williams and Cheri Honkala, two "welfare mothers" from Philadelphia, a city with a disproportionately large number of welfare recipients. He spends the better part of a year with these women, watching as Odessa constructs livable surroundings for herself and her extended family by scavenging and trash picking. Though her character, spirit, and resolve are constantly tested by family crises, she remains the strong and inspiring center of her large - and largely dependent - family. Zucchino also grows to admire Cheri, a single mother of one son, and a tireless advocate for the rights of the homeless. He watches as she helps one family after another pick up and keep on going. With utter dedication and zeal, and with remarkably little concern for material gains of her own, Cheri battles an inflexible city bureaucracy that in her view makes the already difficult lives of the city's poor nearly impossible. In this groundbreaking and beautifully written book, Zucchino balances his reporter's objectivity with profound compassion. In seeking to answer the question "What do welfare mothers do all day?" he uncovers no easy answers but is able to say definitively: "If there were any Cadillac-driving, champagne-sipping, penthouse-living, welfare queens in Philadelphia, I didn't find them."