Growing up the oldest of 8 siblings in New York City, Tenique’s childhood was markedly difficult. Her parents died when she was very young, and consequently she and her siblings lived on their own for most of her childhood. In her teens, she lived at the Covenant House, a New York City agency that houses runaway teenaged youth. Unfortunately during this time, she was separated from her younger siblings who were sheltered in an agency that catered to their younger age demographic.
Tenique’s adulthood would share much of the same difficulties as her childhood. Due to New York City’s high price of living, she remarked that living in New York was seemingly impossible: “No matter how much money you make, you can never afford it.” While there, she could barely afford rent most of her life and afford basic necessities, so she often found residence in unsafe areas of the city.
Enter July of 2018. Tenique decided she would move to a new major city—Atlanta—to start fresh. “It was time for a change to better myself…I was going through extra stuff.” She remembers being incredibly nervous at the prospect of leaving the place she had called home since birth but felt she needed a safe space to improve her situation. She wanted to be in a better place to help her siblings with their own struggles, and she recognized she could not do that before helping herself.
When she arrived at Atlanta, she sought refuge at My Sister’s House, sleeping outside and befriending two familiar faces: Jetta and Sophie. She remained homeless for months. When the shelter’s lodging was at capacity, the three slept outside together. And as we have consistently seen in the testimony of others who have had the fortune to meet her, Jetta proved once again to be a powerful light in dark times.
After Jetta successfully moved into her own housing, she assisted (and succeeded in) finding Tenique her own stable permanent housing.
With stable housing and income, Tenique hopes to enter the modeling and fashion industry. In addition, due to understanding the significance of Jetta’s work connecting individuals suffering from homelessness to affordable housing, she wants to follow in her footsteps and help people. “I got a big thing with helping people up…and people always ask me ‘why are you helping these people?’” She simply responds “I know what it’s like to be on the streets, I know what it feels like to not have…” She wants to one day open a nonprofit that provides resources for individuals suffering from the same homelessness she was empowered to defeat. February 6th, 2019
Pictured above: Tenique, past Street-to-Home participant
When Kyana's mother passed away unexpectedly, she found herself struggling to find stability. Her support system had suddenly disappeared and Kyana and her four children were bouncing from place to place. She stayed with friends when she could and on the streets of Atlanta, when there were no other options.
With the help of Housing Plus, Kyana now has stable housing and can focus on the needs of her four children. She is excited to give her children stability and give back to others experiencing homelessness in the future.
Kyana learned to stay focused, to be strong and to not give up. Her advice to others experiencing homelessness is "I would tell them not to give up and that Housing Plus is a great organization to help." November 26, 2019
Meet Erica (pictured right), she was permanently housed through Housing Plus's Kids Home Initiative. She shared her experiences of living in a motel in the Clayton County area with Chara (pictured left), Housing Plus's Housing Coordinator. This interview took place with Erica in her new two-bedroom apartment after being helped by the program, Kids Home Initiative.
Erica, What was it like living in a motel?
“Being homeless and living in a motel was extremely hard. Every day I witnessed a lot of prostitution, drugs being sold, and alcohol. Music blasted at all times of the night, I couldn’t get any sleep. I left for work at 5 am and people were still outside lingering or some days all over the motel steps asleep. It was not a good environment to live at all. You have no privacy."
How did you and your family end up living in a Hotel?
“I relocated from Florida with the intention of moving into a townhome here in Georgia. But suddenly the realtor announced to me that there was a change. An eviction showed up on my record. I couldn’t believe it because I paid my last landlord everything. I was shocked. We couldn’t get the townhome even though the eviction was wrongfully filed. I called him (the landlord) and he even apologized and said he was sorry. But sorry wasn’t good enough. I was stuck, living in a one-bedroom motel with my family because we needed a place to lay our heads. I couldn’t get an apartment because of the eviction. One month turned into five months of living in a motel. I got behind on my car note trying to jungle paying to live here. I paid $380 a week to live in a motel. We couldn’t cook. We had to eat fast food every single day. Things got tough.”
How did you hear about the program and how has this program helped you?
“This program has truly been a lifesaver. One day, I saw a lady’s Facebook post about the program. She said that they helped her with housing and other Clayton County moms living in hotels. I read the comments. Many people said it was a scam, but I needed to see for myself. I said why not try it? It couldn’t hurt. So, I called the number and emailed Ms. Chara with Housing Plus. She spoke of a partnership that the program has with the Wingate Apartments. While working with her to get everything I needed, they allowed me the opportunity to present paperwork proving that the eviction was wrongfully filed. I got all my paperwork turned in and that same day I was approved. Housing Plus then paid my first month’s rent, security fees, administration fees, and risk fee to move my family into stable and sound housing. I couldn’t believe it. I’m here!”
Erica, we are so happy for you. If you could give advice to other moms, what would you say to them?
“I would say, don’t give up and don’t make the motel your home. That’s why I quickly decorated my home as you can see. When I was there, I just kept saying that this motel –it’s not my home. I saw others around me, other moms with little kids get complacent. They stopped trying and many have given up. I would tell them to please don’t give up. Strive for your kids.” November 6, 2019
Born in Atlanta and raised in historic Auburn Avenue, Douglas went to the same high school as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and had an affinity for musical instrumentation. He left high school before graduation and formed a group with some of his friends, during which he “got into trouble, doing things he shouldn’t of been doing.” That trouble caused him to serve some time in prison.
While serving his sentence, he took on a side job washing state patrol cars. His work ethic put him on the radar of National Guard personnel, who gave him an opportunity to work as a government contractor in disaster relief work. He was employed in this capacity for 12 years until, due to federal budgetary constraints, he lost his job.
After losing his job and subsequently his home, he resided in Lithonia in transitional housing until he finally made his way back to his birthplace. While obtaining resources from Central Presbyterian Church, he noticed an advertisement detailing the Street-to-Home program. After inquiring further to the Church’s staff, he was introduced to Frontline Outreach Specialist Shafee’qur, who immediately located and facilitated Douglas’ move-in to his new apartment.
Nowadays, Douglas says he wakes up every morning “grateful to be alive” and “not sleeping under a bridge or on a sidewalk.” He enjoys watching “old Westerns” and is looking back to getting in the music scene and play any kind of music he can. He has no preference, loving “any kind of music”, from blue grass to ZZ Top.” December 18, 2018
Pictured above: Douglas, past Street-to-Home participant, in his new apartment
Having grown-up in Connecticut and weathering the storm of “bad vibes and negativity” that surrounded her, Sophie decided to take a leap of faith and start fresh somewhere new. She purchased a one-way plane ticket, with no way to return to Connecticut once she boarded the flight of her choice. She had no clue where she would go, but when she arrived at the airport, plasma screen teleprompters only displayed flights to Atlanta, a place down South she had never been to. Presuming this was a sign of a higher sort, she used her ticket to get to Georgia.
Sophie would go on to experience homeless in Atlanta for 8 months, surviving by sleeping outside My Sister’s House and persevering thanks in part to the services the agency provided her and her new friendship with our Outreach Specialist, Jetta, who also was homeless at the time.
When Jetta found stable permanent housing through the Street-to-Home program, she reached back out to Sophie to help find her housing that she could afford with her Social Security benefits. Jetta, relying on her own skillset and tenacity, was able to find Sophie permanent housing she could afford, and the two are now roommates.
Sophie's goals now that she has found stable housing is to go back to school to be a CNA . Sophie's advice for anyone experiencing homelessness is to “find the right people, trust the right people, keep yourself open to good people.” January 25th, 2019
Pictured from the left to right: Jetta, Outreach Specialist, and Sophie, past program participant
A native Floridian from Orlando, Birchchum migrated to Atlanta at ground zero. “I came with nothing.” He had lost his familial support system. Friends he held closest were no longer living. The neighborhoods that once brought him strength became a reminder of what he had lost. “It was time; Florida was a source of pain. Everyone I knew had died.” Before leaving Florida, he took a dive into Biblical scripture, giving himself a year to heal before he left to seek new opportunities. He had journeyed out before, but he knew in a way where his next destination was. “I have traveled around before, but always wanted to come to Atlanta.”
When he arrived at Atlanta in October of 2018, he came with nothing but a suitcase of clothes. Having done his research prior to leaving Florida, he set off to Atlanta Mission in hopes that he could begin his new life with their supportive services. While walking toward the shelter, he noticed a Waffle House. Something about it seemed important to him, but he needed to find a place to stay that night, so he continued his trek. However, before the restaurant was totally out of eyeshot, he glanced again and noticed there was a sign: “Now Hiring.” He immediately changed course and inquired about the job opening. He was told he would need to apply online for the vacant position. That night, before he had a bed to sleep in, he went to Centennial Park, connected to its WiFi with his phone, and applied for the job. He was immediately told he had an interview the next day.
Unfortunately, when Birchchum eventually made his way to Atlanta Mission, he was told their shelter was at capacity and he would need to find somewhere else to sleep. With unwavering initiative, he secured a spot at St. Peter’s Parish and slept on their floor.
Birchchum remarks that his time homeless was a rigorous exercise on how to advocate for his needs, a skill he states was the only reason he survived the ordeal. It was a “learning process…it helped me to communicate better…to where I can now communicate my needs to anyone.” He needed two jobs: one to sustain him and one to help build his savings so that he could afford a home. He accomplished the first in the first week in Atlanta, nailing down the job opportunity at the Waffle House he encountered his first night in Georgia. The other he pursued after checking his mail at Crossroads Community Ministries, where he discovered a unique training opportunity as a security guard.
While completing the training, he realized he would need to find stable housing housing to work the later hours his current schedule demanded. After advocating for this particular need to peers, he was connected with our outreach specialist, Shafee’qur, who found him an affordable (and permanent) place to stay. With stable housing and multiple streams of income, Birchchum hopes to find an even better place to call home.
His advice for anyone suffering from homelessness comes from lessons he learned while without a home: “stay focused…be guided by a higher power. Know exactly what you’re working toward, learn to communicate with supportive people…because I knew what I wanted, I was able to communicate what I needed. Because I knew what I wanted, I could communicate what I needed, and you need to communicate what you need so you can work with different people. I had to communicate with so many different people to get to where I am now. We’re not doing this alone, everybody has different experiences…it seems like it’s tough now, but you can get through it.” February 11, 2019
Pictured from left to right: Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist, and Birchchum, past participant
Tiffany was a workaholic. Holding down 2 to 3 jobs amidst the stress of family dysfunction, she juggled an immense amount of pressure in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio while trying to make ends-meet. One morning, just before work, she suffered an unknown form of paralysis. “My body shutdown on me…I was supposed to go to work that day and I was just stuck on the couch.” She would later find out it would be due to a psychosomatic response to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a byproduct of a lifetime of extreme stress and trauma. “We went through a lot as children…and we didn’t know how to deal with it.” Everything seemed to hit her at once. Her diagnosis was a turning point in her life, pushing her to seek therapy to help stabilize. While mulling the prospect of leaving Ohio, she considered the advice of her brother who “always said [she] would do better in Georgia than Columbus because it seemed like she would end up homeless or in jail there.” Taking his counsel, she set off to Georgia to reconnect with her brother and start a new life.
With no home, she slept in her car while she sought out her brother in Augusta. Unfortunately, a car accident would derail those plans and cause a serious injury to her knee. Having difficulty connecting with her estranged brother, she sought solace at My Sister’s House, where she connected with our Outreach Specialist, Jetta, and soon after was able to find housing and government assistance. According to Tiffany, having a home with a support system in place is like a “beacon of hope” and “a place to stay where I can work on my mental, I can work on my physical, spiritual, all of that.”
Now that she has permanent housing, Tiffany remarks that she can finally focus on her mental and physical health in ways she could not back in Ohio and while homeless in Georgia. Before she experienced the symptoms of her PTSD diagnosis, she was a cosmetology instructor and tattoo artist. With stability, she plans to get re-certified as an instructor and begin tattooing again.
Her advice to anyone currently homeless is to “give yourself another chance. Because yes, it can be difficult, and it can be hard, but when you have people who are actually supportive in your life, don’t be afraid to speak up and take their advice. It could take you a long way." February 11th, 2019
Pictured from the left to right: Jetta, Outreach Specialist, and Tiffany, past program participant
Originally from Waco, Texas, Charmon, his mother, and his two sisters moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia when he was 16 years old. He enjoyed Georgia instantly, remembering how much happier his family was there because of the opportunities it afforded them. His mother was strong, a single parent who sought out prospects to improve the wellbeing of her children; Charmon always loved and admired his mother’s resolve.
One day, life would deal a devastating blow to his family’s new-found peace: he would arrive home to find his mother and his two sisters shot and killed. As a 16-year-old, he resolved to get vengeance for his family seemingly murdered in cold blood: “I left and I did what I felt was right and what I had to do." Charmon would be arrested and sentenced to 16 years in prison for aggravated assault.
The first 7 years of his sentence “was hard, I was just strong-willed.” He took the time to find himself, diving into whatever book was available so that the situation he had found himself in didn’t overtake who he was at heart. He would “read and pray, read and pray, read and pray” to keep himself from “getting lost in there.” He channeled his mother’s ambition that he depended on and admired as a child, realizing he “had something greater to live for, so I got right with my faith…I knew one day I was gonna come home.”
Being out for a year, he states “the adjustment is hard, even having been out for a year…but I still have my ambition, my drive.” When he was released from prison after serving his full sentence, he was dropped off in Douglasville, Georgia because he had no primary address on file. He entered the adult prison system before he was legally an adult, so he began his life in Douglasville with no safety net, no family, no job prospects, but willpower passed down to him from his mother. As he puts it simply, “I was just strong-willed.” To survive, he stayed in a “dope house,” constantly keeping his eyes set toward improving his life when he could get the proper resources and supports.
His search for resources would connect him with Shafee’qur, one of our outreach specialists. Shafee’qur was able to connect Charmon with affordable permanent housing in Atlanta, where he has recently graduated from welding school and will soon work full-time as a welding technician. He remarks based on his current successes: “when people see you’re good people…people pull up and help you…”
His advice to others is to stay strong. Don't lose yourself in your environment. Keep your values and morals strong. And stay humble. "You gotta go through things to really understand what it means and appreciate the good." February 12th, 2019
Pictured from left to right: Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist, and Charmon, past program participant
Veronica is an Atlanta native, having grown up in Dekalb county her whole life. She had a daughter at 26, and the joys of raising a child would be coupled with debilitating medical issues: for 16 years, she has suffered from uterine fibroids, which made working and supporting her family a great difficulty. Because she could not maintain stable employment due to her medical condition, she was homeless off-and-on for 18 years. She worked as a part-time preschool teacher. But, as she remarks, it was “hard for me still because I had to work…I had to work for my daughter. I would work even in the pain.” Part-time pay could never be enough to support her and her daughter’s livelihood.
In 2003, Veronica applied for federal disability assistance, but she was constantly denied funding due to her income level. She constantly pushed herself to work to provide for her daughter. “What do I do? I still have to provide for my daughter. I had to do what I had to do.” There came a point where she was forced to sleep at various family member’s homes from night to night, not knowing where she would be the next night.
Veronica would be denied disability 4 additional times until she could afford to hire a lawyer. She could not keep consistent work because of the intensity of her medical condition, and her constant surgeries for fibroids and tumors had become expensive. Even in the courtroom, she would have to passionately argue her case for federal assistance until she was finally allotted benefits to help with her expenses.
She was awarded Social Security Disability Insurance in 2010, but still found it difficult to support herself and her daughter. She continued to live from family member to family member, hoping to one day get stability. “I had great family support.” One particular surgery made it hard for Veronica to walk, and it was with the help of her father’s guidance that she would get back on her feet. “He was tough, but he meant well.”
Everything would change when Veronica connected with Shafee’qur, our outreach specialist. He was able to immediately connect her with affordable housing based on her federal assistance, and now, with stable housing, Veronica has a chance to prioritize her other needs. She has several surgeries and procedures ahead of her, but with an uncanny ability to stay positive even in the most challenging of times and an infectious smile, she plans to defeat the debilitating aspects of her medical condition. February 12th, 2019
Pictured from left to right: Veronica, past participant, and Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist,
Rosanna’s reason for moving from her New York hometown—the Bronx, more specifically—to Atlanta is the same reason she’s now fully employed with stable housing: her kids. Before leaving the north, she lived with her 18 and 2 year old sons and her21 year old daughter. Her oldest son would soon join the military and leave the home, but Rosanna had a growing concern that her daughter had grown too dependent on her. “The only way she was going to grow up was if I left.” Amidst inflamed family conflict, her daughter’s hesitation to move forward in her adulthood, and working three jobs just to pay rent in her Bronx home, Rosanna did just that—pursuing a warmer climate and a chance to start over with her 2 year old son. “I just wanted to get away from everything and everyone.”
On her way South, she passed through North Carolina. She thought it was “nice,” with warmer weather comparative to New York. But, “it seemed deserted…and I needed more life.” So she kept driving ever more south until she finally encountered Atlanta, whose warm temperature and vibrant neighborhoods drew her in. She would soon after find solace at My Sister’s House.
While there, she would face several setbacks. Her car, which contained all her and her son’s belongings, would be stolen. They would lose their identifying documentation and clothing, their primary mode of transportation, and—more critically—their jackets just before Atlanta experienced its fall chill. “Our whole life was in there…we had to start all over again, all over again.” Rosanna would maintain incredible positivity in the wake of this tragedy, remarking “when they stole my car, I didn’t cry. I didn’t have to pay insurance and all that anymore.”
Life living in and out of a shelter “could’ve been worse,” according to Rosanna. She was able to save money and My Sister’s House provided daycare to her son at a much affordable rate while she worked. It would be during this time of reorienting her life that she would meet Jetta, our outreach specialist, who would connect her with permanent affordable housing of her own.
Rosanna is currently working as a dental assistant in Roswell. With stable housing and a steady flow of income, she hopes to buy a new car and purchase a new house. She recalls how maintaining a spirit of positivity helped her through being homeless, as she constantly sought light in hard times. “It can always be worse. You have to look at it on the positive…you look at the next person with no shoes on, but realize you have shoes on.” February 18th, 2019
Pictured from the left to right: Rosanna, past program participant, and Jetta, Outreach Specialist.
Back in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, Donald worked so much at his job to afford to live he rarely slept or saw his home and family. “I worked so much I wasn’t technically homeless in St. Louis, but I was never home either.” Tired of living on the clock, Donald decided it was time for a fresh start in a new city, wanting “to relocate and pursue other employment opportunities like arts, entertainment, and communications.” Donald had 9 kids he needed to take care of, and he realized that he could not amass the proper amount of resources and opportunity in his immediate setting to provide for them. He needed better pay and a chance to move up in life. Atlanta would be his answer. “Wherever the opportunities are, I’m goin’.”
On December 25th, 2018, made his way south and eventually find shelter at Atlanta Mission, where he was allowed the time and space to get settled in his new environment. Working hard to gain stability, Donald would participate in the Mission’s programming until he “made the most of his time and resources there.” Once he got his bearings, he immediately started looking for a permanent place to reside while working his job at Steak and Shake. Birchchum, who had recently been housed through our programming, would help connect Donald with Shafee’qur, our outreach specialist. He would soon after find Donald a new home in a new city.
Now that Donald is stably housed, he wants to focus on the arts and acting. He wants to start recording his own music and get into the art scene in Atlanta with his skills in photography. He is also constantly in pursuit of a higher paying job, his primary goal to keep earning money for his family. Throughout his experience weathering homelessness, he has learned to stay focused and work hard.
Pictured from left to right: Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist, and Donald, past program participant
Sheryl has lived in a variety of places, and wherever she has gone it has been in the pursuit of connecting those that need it with aid. In Texas, she was a case manager, connecting lower income families to food stamps and other services throughout the state. In Augusta, she served as Program Director for the Bethlehem Community Center, where she supervised free computer classes, a senior citizens’ initiative, an afterschool program and summer program for kids, a food pantry, and a public clothing closet. She loved the work she did throughout the southeast, but one day she would discover that her family would need her help, and she would put all her resources into ensuring they were supported.
She would journey to Florida after she uncovered news her eldest son was homeless, spending her savings on a hotel so that she’d have a place to stay in the interim. She searched for him until she ran out of money. Soon after, she would seek refuge at a local Florida shelter, with new plans to locate her daughter and youngest son in Georgia.
Arriving in Georgia, Sheryl would once again find lodging at a local Atlanta hotel in the hopes that she could reconnect with one of her kids and find a more affordable place to live. She would reconnect with her son who had recently been released from prison, but the financial pressure of supporting them both would cause her to once again seek refuge in a local shelter.
She walked around downtown Atlanta with all her possessions in two suitcases until a person she encountered told her she could find a safe place to sleep at the Gateway Center. Unfortunately, when she arrived at their shelter, they were near capacity and she was forced to sleep on their porch that night. “I was very fortunate they had an overhang so I didn’t get rained on.” The next day, a representative from the Salvation Army would announce the availability of shelter space for women. “My hand just shot up because I did not want to spend another night on that porch and dragging those two suitcases around.”
While at the Salvation Army for 6 weeks, Sheryl would utilize a variety of resources geared toward connecting her to affordable permanent housing. One resource would be our outreach specialist, Shafee’qur, who would very quickly connect Sheryl to a home of her own. “It was like wham bam, thank you ma’am… I called him and that was on a Monday, and Tuesday he took my application, and Wednesday we came out here and they gave me a key. It happened so fast I was like woah.”
Stably housed and funded through Social Security, Sheryl loves where she is living and is excited to have privacy and time to herself. She plans to continue her efforts to reconnect with her two children in Atlanta now that she has a firm foundation in the city. Her advice to others suffering from homelessness is “find your resources… that’s the first thing you need to do. Find out what resources are out there.” February 21st, 2019
Pictured from left to right: Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist, and Sheryl, past program participant
Diane move to Atlanta was shepherded by hard living in Chicago and happenstance. The temperature usually hovered around freezing. The people she regularly came across were “rude.” Her and her son’s living arrangement was dangerous and unsanitary. “We lived in a rathole of a basement that was partially flooded…people would steal our food, the bathroom next door to us looked like the scene out of a horror movie.” She had been to Atlanta once in the past and missed its warmer weather and friendly neighborhoods. A testament of her passion and resolve, she outlasted the destitute conditions of her environment through the unwavering support of her son and her devotion as a caregiver to the elderly that depended on her services. As a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, she also strived to make conditions for professionals like herself better by advocating for better pay and benefits.
Unexpectedly, her membership in the Alliance would usher in her exit from Chicago. “I had been praying for a way to get back to Atlanta. “ Her prayers would be answered through an invitation to speak at a national convention organized by the Alliance. The organization offered to pay for her trip to Atlanta and back—but Diane saw this as a once in a life opportunity to better her and her son’s living conditions. “So I told [the Alliance] look, make that ticket one-way.”
So Diane and her son moved to Atlanta to start fresh in the city she knew would provide a better foundation for them to grow. They lived in a motel while they strategized how to move forward in their new lives. Though family members would provide temporary relief from the costs associated with living exclusively in motels, interpersonal conflict would make living conditions unmanageable. Diane and her son would cycle between motels and family member’s and acquaintances homes until they were connected with Kandace, our transitional housing case manager, through a fellow member at the church they attend.
“When I came here, I met Kandace at the church that I now attend. We had been staying in that place and the way my sons pay and my retirement came it left us with a gap of about a week, we had no money for anything because it was so expensive trying to find food every day, transportation, and he worked so late he’d have to Uber from bus stops…and safety is an issue. He would walk sometimes for miles…after talking with Kandace, she connected us with Ms. Jetta, and the rest was history.” Soon after, Jetta was able to connect Diane and her son with permanent housing.
Now, Diane is thrilled where she is living. The bus stop is right outside so her son can easily get to work, and with the help of her SSI, her rent is affordable. Her next steps, even in retirement, are to find a job and a stable mode of transportation. Her advice to anyone experiencing homelessness is to “put your faith forward and go forward with it.” February 21st, 2019
Pictured from the left to right: Jetta, Outreach Specialist, and Diane, past program participant
Sharon grew up in New Jersey but moved to Atlanta about 20 years ago, working construction jobs throughout the city alongside her youngest son to pay costs associated with living from motel to motel. When the holidays came around, her eldest son invited her to visit his home in South Carolina. Though it meant leaving their temporary home at an extended stay motel, she wanted to have her family together for the holidays.
Two days after returning to Atlanta from South Carolina without a place to call home, she suffered from cardiac arrest due to the stresses of finding a stable living space. After returning from South Carolina, “I went to Hope Atlanta and they housed me on Emergency Crisis status on Wednesday. That Friday I was at Piedmont going through cardiac arrest.”
“I thought ‘oh my God, I’m dying.’” She spent five days in the hospital while her heart and lungs were operated on. The day she was released, she took no time to fully recuperate and worked with her son to find stable housing for them both. "If you don't feed yourself positive information, it isn't gonna come from the outside." She stayed positive and never gave up, always determined to better her and her son’s situation.
Sharon went to the Atlanta Women's Day Shelter and got connected with Hope Atlanta and Atlanta AID. Sharon was very determined and that same day went looking for a townhome/apartment for her and her son Ronald to live. Jetta assisted her in finding something affordable and made sure the move in was handled. “I went out and found an apartment—first day” after leaving the hospital with the help of Atlanta Aid’s emergency housing and Jetta’s outreach assistance. Even more incredibly, with not even a day’s worth of recovery, Sharon and her son moved all their belongings to their new lodging soon after she left the hospital.
Now that she has stable housing, Sharon plans to find a customer service support job, an area of which she has considerable expertise. She enjoys interacting with people, but can only work part-time due to her SSI and is nonetheless excited to begin working again now that she has her health back. Nowadays she enjoys receiving calls from her granddaughter, who sings her the latest gospel song she has learned.
Her advice to others suffering from homelessness is to think positively. “Just keep saying something positive, so much is going on in crisis.”
Pictured above: Sharon, past program participant
Though she grew up in Kansas City, Missouri where she would eventually get her degree in sociology, Tanisha was the adventurous eldest daughter of 6 kids who wanted to get out of her hometown and experience the world: “there was so much to see and do.” Soon after finishing school, she married an Army soldier, and they both moved to Fort Benning, Georgia and would go on to have 3 kids together.
Unfortunately, Tanisha would experience homelessness after separating from her husband and moving back to Missouri 10 years ago, where she was a part-time medical malpractice paralegal and nurse. Though she received government assistance, it was not enough to pay for her children's needs. As it is illegal to receive government assistance and accumulate more money than federally allowed, she was tried and found guilty of a felony level conviction.
Moving back to California with her kids after losing her job, housing, and consistent mode of transportation, she soon started an LLC called Help Beyond Closed Doors that provided services for spouses of military personnel to work from home for Fortune 500 companies. Unsatisfied with her dependence on her parents while on the West Coast, she moved to Atlanta to start fresh in a major city and in a state she was familiar with. She would move from shelter to shelter with her children as she sought out more stability .
One day while searching for resources for her family, she would overhear Mary Grace discussing housing with clients at Cross Roads Ministries and request stable housing of her own. Mary Grace would connect her with Shafee'qur, our outreach specialist, who would immediately connect her with affordable housing.
Her plans that she's now stable are to "pay it forward." After she has accumulated enough support, she plans to start a nonprofit focused on providing STEM opportunities for teenage girls and victims of sex trafficking.
Her advice to others experiencing homelessness is: "don't give up. The resources matter, people, places, they all matter."
Pictured from left to right: Shafee'qur, Outreach Specialist, and Tanisha, past program participant
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