When we headed to Portsmouth, Virginia and met with the incredible staff of the H.E.R. Shelter – we were not prepared for how heartwarming this experience was going to be.
Many of you have heard of the H.E.R. shelter as a haven for domestic abuse victims, and they have recently renovated and reopened a shelter to also serve those experiencing homelessness! This is AMAZING because sometimes it’s just life circumstances that lead people to needed a temporary roof over their heads and H.E.R. is working so incredibly hard to provide just that. Visit *THIS BLOG POST* to find out what H.E.R. shelter needs right now! I am willing to bet there is SOME way you can help! From donating your skills/services to food to items to monetary donations, there are so many ways to give back.
The first interview we had with was Chandra, a mom of three who has a SUPER healthy and uplifting attitude when it comes to the adversity she’s been handled. She is very clear about knowing that hard times are just a pit stop you have to visit to get where you’re going and we LOVED that about her!
Nickname(s): Lil Mama (she is the second oldest of 11 children, which totally makes sense she would be lil mama:))
Born & raised in Portsmouth, Virginia.
When we asked about her family life, Chandra said it was great. She is actually very close with her family! She loves having a bigger family.
Favorite subject in school? Math and writing.
Favorite teacher that stood out to you? Mrs. D. Jenkins and Mrs. Ripley.
She was an honor roll student and one of her teachers couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go on field trips…and when she figured out that it was because Chandra wasn’t able to pay for them… her teacher started to pay for those so she could go on them.
This is SUPER heartwarming when it comes to how far a teacher will go sometimes… and I have a lot of teacher friends who have told me how difficult it is emotionally to see students in need so often: Mrs. Ripley would wash her and her siblings clothes for her. She would ask Chandra to bring a backpack full of their clothes so she could take care of her in that way. Amazing.
First job – NEWSPAPER delivery.
Least favorite job…working in the kitchen. Something she LOVED to do but hated the tedious nature of it. She found out she was really good at it while serving time in jail and working in the kitchen there.
If you could have any job what would it be? Promoting and marketing.
This next question highlights Chandra’s confidence and self-awareness well. I LOVED HER ANSWER:
What is something you would want people to know about you? Whatever they feel. I’m not big on “you should know this about me” because I am who I am and I trust people to be who they are and I just try to be a good person across the board.
What is one big event that led you to become homeless or a combination of events that led you to homelessness? A combination of events. After serving time, I went to stay with family and ended up having to take on taking care of my niece.
From there – things got harder.
She worked at a fast food place for a while, was promoted to manager and then stopped working when she had a miscarriage. By the time she got her next job in telemarketing/customer service – she was so behind on bills and ended up staying with her grandmother. She ended up pregnant with her son and couldn’t work after five months because of severe pain associated with pregnancy.
With her criminal record, getting a job is difficult.
The jobs that ARE available are very difficult schedule wise taking care of her two kids and her brother’s son.
Something that was emotional for Chandra was that her niece didn’t want anyone see her coming out of the shelter and didn’t want people to know she was there. She felt bad about that.
Chandra says “I’m an adult and don’t care what others think about that, I know you have to make a pit stop to get where you’re going sometimes.”
Faced with challenges in providing the income she needs to survive and support her children, our entrepreneurial friend Chandra started her OWN business – housecleaning!!! She knows this is the best way for her to make the amount of money she needs to make ends meet.
Did you ever think you would end up homeless? No. To me it’s not the end of the world, just a pit stop.
I told her she’s got a great healthy vision about moving forward and that it’s so impressive.
She had one hopeless moment in prison – 18 years old – and then she realized that no one is going to care about her life the way she can so she wanted better, and decided to do better.
What truth would you want people to know about homelessness? Anyone can find themselves there, and if you DO find yourself there – that’s not IT. It’s just a stepping stone. Just a pit stop.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to approach a homeless person? JUST DO IT. Just talk to them. Make sure it’s someone who wants to help themselves. Not someone who is just okay with it and doesn’t want to change.
What do you want your life to look like from a year from now? My life is going to look totally different because I’m taking all the steps I need to get there!
WE ARE SO PROUD OF CHANDRA! We absolutely loved her interview. Her little boy was the SWEETEST thing, and I took a couple of breaks to go rinse off the pacifiers because he kept joyfully throwing them on the ground 🙂 We always ask a round of shallow questions – they are listed below! What do YOU have in common with Chandra? 🙂
THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like. If you want help support the H.E.R. Shelter – click HERE 🙂