The H.E.R. SHELTER is doing GOOD WORK! | Partners

A couple of months ago, I hopped on my video software and created a video to send to a shelter telling them who I am and asking if they would allow us to help them. Our nonprofit Homeless Looks Like is actually created to fundraise for other nonprofits who help the homeless and we are working toward a structure of focusing on one nonprofit per quarter to HELP!

When I asked – SO MANY PEOPLE SAID H.E.R. Shelter – and what’s ironic is that they just recently re-opened a shelter for the homeless versus what they are notoriously known for which was domestic violence and abuse survivors. In Portsmouth, Virginia in December – we walked into a sweet and cozy shelter created to help the homeless get back on their feet and back on their own. A place to sleep, take care of themselves and eat. A safe place.

There is a lot more to what this environment is offering than just shelter. Hope and motivation are key factors in the mood that fills the air in this space. The room we did interviews in, a cool and coastal space with calming music, blue walls and comfortable seats is called the Empowerment Room and we loved that! We felt VERY welcome and we felt called to be there. It was incredible.

Here are a couple of important links below and also a LIST of EXACTLY what they need! Do you know anyone who could help with this? They would immensely appreciate!!!!

If anyone desires to donate time/treasure:
They can call Chris directly 252-202-4858 OR email: ; office 757-392-2167

Any monetary donations: H.E.R. Shelter Inc

Anyone desiring to come out and give a space a “face-lift”(Remodel) or Amazon something OR just donate clothing items, etc: 1900 Columbus Ave Portsmouth, Va 23704
They will happily provide a Donation Receipt that can be used during tax time as a charitable donation.

Donate link here:
Contact link here:
Home page: 

Major Needs:
 Kitchen Cabinet Hardware Replaced
 Kitchen Remodel (Paint kitchen, Flooring, Blinds)
 Refrigerators – Replace (2 Each)
 Living Room Remodel – Sofa, Love Seat, Blinds, Lighting lamp(s), Flooring, functional
computer desk that complements the space)
 Minor Window Repairs (all 9 rooms)
 Blinds (all 9 rooms)
 Gaps in Window / Ceiling (allows air and insect intrusion) All 9 rooms
 Functional Room Furniture (Chest-of-Drawers / 2-Drawer Armor w/ 2-Drawers) – 9
Rooms total
 Shelving Installed – (All Storage Closets, 5)
 Lighting throughout the building needs to be Serviced (Check the fuse / balance) some
bulbs will not light up – Light unit could be bad?? – Electrical /Lighting Technician
 Security Cameras – 8 additional cameras needed to close-loop to “non-covered” vital

The items listed below are used daily, weekly, and monthly and often have a high rate of

Cleaning supplies:
 Paper items (Paper Towels, Toilet Tissue)
 Garbage bags, large (55 gal & 35 gal )
 Floor cleaner (Fabuloso)
 Dusters
 3 Push Brooms
 Laundry detergent – PODS
 Bounce Dryer Sheets
 Clorox Wipes (4 pack)
 Dish Detergent
 Air Freshener
 Bleach
 Cleaning pads
 Bathroom and disinfectant cleaner
 Toilet bowl cleaner

RESTORE Homeless Shelter Needs:
(1900 Columbus Ave. Portsmouth, Va. 23702)

Personal hygiene
 Hand sanitizers
 Toothpaste and toothbrushes (adult and child)
 Men and Women deodorant and lotion
 Body Wash (for men and women)
 Hand soaps and bar soaps
 Shaving gel and razors
 Feminine sanitary supplies
 Underwear (for men and women) – New please..
 Towels and washcloths
 Bus Passes (HRT)
 Baby Pampers and wipes
 Socks (men and women) – New please
 Zip-lock bags (Quart and Gallon size)

List of things we need to purchase before clients can move in
• Bed Bug Covers – (50 Each)
• Sheets (Twin size) 18 Set
• Pillow cases – 36 Each
• Pillows – 10 Each
• Plates – 5 Set
• Silverware (Forks, Spoons, butter knives) – 4 Set

THANK YOU FOR HELPING OUR FRIENDS! Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for insisting that their stories matter 🙂

THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda, Mike + Joe





What Jessica’s Story Looks Like | Interview

NAME: Jessica Jones
From: Richmond, VA
Fact: Jessica is an angel and I love her
Another fact: Jessica is one of the most fun people I know

Jessica works for the Real Life Center in Richmond, VA. To read more about the Real Life Center, visit THIS blog post interviewing the founder, Dr. Sarah Scarbrough.

I started to talk to Jessica about how they help the homeless. She said that ultimately, they try to point them in the right direction for housing… mentioning that Real Life has their recovery house but it only hosts 9 people at a time. It’s hard for her to come to work the next day and see SO many more people who need help as people line up for the soup kitchen that’s right next door to their office.

Jessica worked for Dr. Sarah in the jail which is how she ended up working with the Real Life Center.

“We don’t clock out” – Jessica’s work is constantly on.

I asked Jessica about emotional challenges that come with the job. I think questions like this are SO important to ask people who are working in this field because so many people can’t imagine voluntarily stepping into such difficult work.

“So, literally the intake I just did before I came in here was a victim of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.” Jessica then went on to mention how this is something she sees and hears every single day, and how it’s hard not to become numb to it.

Occasionally, Jessica will get hit with a hard story and say to herself, “I need a minute.” This simple sentence from someone who perpetually stays in a state of listening to hard stories is proof that being in a tough field like this doesn’t keep you immune to being overcome with emotion for people in hard situations. You can only turn it off so much for so long until you get it really hard once in a while.

They call this secondary trauma.

Jessica made a statement I loved. She said she would take this traumatic and heavy stress over frivolous stress any day. This is another reason I adore her and her heart.

Jessica said she was so sensitive before she started working in the jail. She grew thicker skin and was used to being in a male dominated profession. She knows that her experience working in the jail totally set her up to be able to handle working for the Real Life Center.

Do you have any favorite people that you’ve worked with? She talked about her favorite gentleman they’ve worked with, stories of how kind he is and how when he relapsed they were SO worried but how he’s doing well now. “He just pulls on my heart strings” Jessica mentioned. “Does he know that you guys love him?” I asked. She said he definitely knows he’s a favorite, haha!

Can you imagine this man’s life without this kind of support? I’m willing to bet that Jessica and the Real Life staff will never know the magnitude of how important they have been to him. I love what they are giving to people. Support and hope is everything.

“What do you wish people knew about homelessness…especially people who are like ‘they should just get a job?’” I asked Jessica.

Jessica replied, “Oh my gosh, it’s not that easy. And when they call them bums? Ugh. Okay, some of it I understand. I understand the stereotype of not understanding and just putting a label on something just because you don’t understand it.” Then candidly Jessica and I BOTH agreed that we grew up being encouraged to stay away from the homeless, not to talk to them, not to make eye contact, etc.

Jessica mentioned how studies show now that an overwhelming amount of people are ONE paycheck away from being homeless. She hit the nail on the head. YES. In recent sociological research I did – I saw that if Mike was the only one working in our home, we would BARELY be above the poverty line for a family of five. WOW.

“Making $7.35 an hour is not going to give them a place to live.”

I AGREE, girl, I agree.

I asked what the Real Life Center could use the most of and Jessica remarked that awareness is what they could use a lot of. Sometimes people are ignorant to how important the work they are doing is and they like to “other” people, or assume that “those people aren’t like them” – and HELLO, that is what Homeless Looks Like is ALL about! We are connectors. We are POSITIVE that we are all so much more alike than different. We love to bring awareness to this.

Jessica selflessly goes to work daily determined to make a difference. I know that the reason the Real Life Center has shined so bright in its first year plus of operation is because of the wonderful people who show up to do the hard work that has been needed for so long, and Jessica you are such a warm, inspiring part of that. We are SO honored to know you!




Thank you for reading about Jessica and all of the incredible work she is doing with the REAL LIFE Center in Richmond, Virginia!!

Real Life on Instagram
Real Life on Facebook
Support Real Life

THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike


Shallow questions and answers from Jessica HERE:

What Sarah’s Story Looks Like | Interview

What a JOY and honor to be able to interview the founder of the Real Life Center of Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Sarah Scarbrough and get HER take on what it’s like to work with people who have been in homeless conditions and/or other challenging life situations including incarceration, addiction or both. The Real Life Center recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary and within that time they served DOUBLE of the amount of people they anticipated – topping 400 people who were helped free of charge to be able to acquire the tools and skills to move forward toward new beginnings and a sustainable lifestyle. The work that is being done is immeasurable but if you want to check out the end of the year report, here’s a link to follow!: Real Life Report 2018

Dr. Scarbrough was also not surprisingly named a Richmond Times Dispatch 2018 Person of the Year Honoree for all of her good work 🙂

Let’s get to talking with Dr. Sarah Scarbrough and see what she had to say about homelessness, incarceration, addiction, her nonprofit and how she handles all of this as a working mom and wife!

Name: Dr. Sarah Scarbrough

Born in: Northern VA but Richmond, VA is home

Dr. Scarbrough spent ten years working in Richmond jail, the latter five as the program director and that’s what Real Life Center was birthed out of.

Click here to visit the website for the REAL LIFE CENTER and also check them out on Facebook! They have a wonderful presence and inspirational posts!

I asked Sarah if she just saw a general need for what the Real Life Center would do for people getting out of prison or if it was one event that gave her the idea for it – and she told me the story of a man named Carlos.

Carlos was getting out of jail and they had managed to get him so many of the things he would need to start his new life. Everyone was so excited for him! He had a lease signed and ready to go, he had silverware, furniture donated, EVERYTHING…except toilet paper. And guess what? When you’re out of jail and you don’t yet have any money, you can’t just go buy a roll of toilet paper at the Dollar Tree for a dollar…because you don’t yet have that dollar. There is a need for a better and more realistic transition for these people.

When I asked Sarah who they worked with at the Real Life Center, she told me “We will work with anyone in an adverse situation that’s willing and wanting to change and willing to go through our process. The biggest thing that our clients face is incarceration, substance use disorder and/or homelessness and frankly most of our folks have all three of those things that they’ve experienced in the past.”

They are honest about housing and managing expectations and the goal is to immediately develop a plan and then they begin to move through a screening process.

Want to hear something heartbreaking Dr. Scarbrough mentioned? Some of their clients are happier homeless. We talked about a woman who sleeps outside of their place every single night who feels safer being homeless because she was sexually assaulted in her homes growing up by the men in her life.

Dr. Sarah Scarbrough is also a mom who adores her family and when I asked her how it was to balance a job that can be so emotionally heavy and taxing, she mentioned this:

Sarah talked about the emotional challenges that come with the job and how separating work and life can be tough. She’ll hear about a mother who is homeless with her kids on the streets and knowing she gets to come home and be with her kids, it can be so hard.

The other effect that is there… is when people don’t make it. “They don’t see in themselves what we see in them.”

“We can’t save anybody, we just provide the tools and hope that they use them and hope that the seeds were planted, even if it’s years down the road.”

We started to talk about what it’s like when people work through the program and succeed. One of the things I LOVE about Real Life is that they are enthusiastic about celebrating every little accomplishment and milestone for their clients. 30 days sober, finishing phase one of the program – just learning to celebrate and be proud of the little steps that add up instead of waiting to only celebrate the end goal. Real Life is the cheerleader that these people desperately need encouraging them on the sidelines.

Sarah printed out a certificate to congratulate one of their clients, brought it to the house and the client had tears in his eyes. She went over to ask if everything was okay and to her surprise, he responded “no one has ever told me that they’re proud of me”.

Who are some of your favorite people that you’ve met? “Some of the people that society has written off the most are some of the people I enjoy working with the most. Violent offenders, that fight the most, the biggest troublemakers are the best ones to work with because no one else is willing to take them on.”

Dr. Scarbrough went on to say how these “tough” people are often not as tough as you would think. When you start peeling back the layers of the onion, you often find someone who has been through abuse, trauma and is actually scared – those are some of the people who need this kind of program the most.

What’s it like when you watch them move through the program? “You literally see transformation before your eyes, the way that they talk changes, their face changes, the way they dress changes, everything about them slowly changes…I mean they look happier, they look healthier, they have more confidence, they’ll look you in the eye…whereas before they would never.”

You guys, Sarah is a JOY. She is hilarious, she’s a perfect mix of tough and kind and what she’s doing is hard work that most people could never imagine diving head first into… but her vision with the Real Life program is proving to change hundreds of lives. If you want a quick and effective look into seeing the work they are doing in Richmond, Virginia – read this report & infographic!

You can donate HERE (see below how your support helps!)

$17.50 sponsors transportation for one person for a week

$30.00 sponsors getting a state identification and birth certificate for one person

$60.00 sponsors transportation for one person for a month

$600 sponsors one person to live in the REAL House for 6 months

$888 sponsors one person to receive services at the Center for a year (this cost is down from the initial cost to serve a person for $1,320)


Thank you for reading about Sarah and all of the AMAZING WORK she is doing with the REAL LIFE Center in Richmond, Virginia!!

THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike



Shallow question answers from Sarah HERE:

Your Story Matters Apparel!!! | FUNDRAISER

You guys, for months I would wear “Your Story Matters” shirts and have people ask – when can I get one of those!?

NOW YA CAN FRIENDS, now you can. We have a short but pumped up campaign running via Bonfire where you can order beautiful shirts with our logo for a great price and we get a generous donation from each purchase! This is our FIRST fundraising campaign and we think it’s so amazing that is doubles as a way to spread our mission by having people wear our logo and start the conversation with people about what Homeless Looks Like is.

We share STORIES. We insist that everyone’s story matters.
We know we can’t jump to judgement or to conclusions when we see someone who is homeless.
We know they are not invisible and they are humans worthy of interaction and conversation.

Would you like to look around and pick up a crew neck, long sleeve or t-shirt? Or can you share for us? We are over halfway to our goal and we are SO hoping to sell 30 of these total!!! 🙂 THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! 🙂


xoxo, the Homeless Looks Like TEAM
Amanda, Amanda &  Mike

What John’s Story Looks Like | Interview

Name: John

Nicknames: Clyde (because people call he and his fiance Kisha Bonnie & Clyde…you can read her story HERE)

Born in: Maplewood NJ

When John’s grandpa passed away, he became homeless.

I asked if he liked Richmond, Virginia and he told us he would return to NJ if he could.

Do you talk to your family at all? He told me “they treat me like crap.” He said that they’ll talk to him when something good is happening in their life.

Growing up, John loved school. His favorite subject was math. I told him I totally respect that because I was very, very bad at math, LOL!

When we asked about employment that he previously held, John mentioned that he has a history of holding jobs for longer periods of time. One for seven years, one for ten years.

What is something you would want people to know about you? He mentioned the looks he’s given and how people will just walk right by you. Then John said something that broke my heart…”My grandma told that you choose to be homeless”. He reiterated how he would NEVER choose what is happening to him.

Was there a specific event that led you to becoming homeless or a combination of things? He reminded me it happened when his grandfather passed away from cancer. My mother had to foreclose on the house. So then instead of my mother getting a three bedroom, she got a two bedroom. That’s when I knew I was homeless.”

John then told us that his family is connected with him on Facebook, and I asked if they knew he was experiencing this and he said “they think this is a joke”.

“Without Kisha, I wouldn’t know what to do.”

That came up without any prompting. He just felt compelled to tell us that.

He said “my mother said (about he and Kisha) ‘it’s y’all against everybody else’” – our team at Homeless Looks Like agrees that with nicknames like Bonnie and Clyde, that description is pretty well fitting 🙂

What’s the hardest part about being homeless physically? John replied, “physically, sleeping in the street. I can’t get no sleep.” I said to John that I know he probably has to look out for he and Kisha’s stuff and he said “I don’t sleep…I let her sleep.” He said he may get a wink in, but he has to watch out for people who may try to rob or hurt you.

Whew…when he said “I let her sleep” – we were just over the moon for him. What a gentleman.

John said emotionally the hardest part of being homeless is not having a “plan B” and not having security. He has always felt a lack of security in his life.

I asked what the best thing to happen to him recently was and he couldn’t think of anything.

Growing up John said he never imagined he would end up homeless.

When I asked if anyone could give him anything right now, what would it be? John said “an apartment”. If they had to give something smaller to him at that exact moment…John said he would like them “just to spend some time” with him.

That is SO John to say something humble and kind like that.

John is so sweet you guys. His voice is so gentle and calm. He’s so incredibly nice. It was a gift to be in his presence for this interview.

What truth would you want people to know about homelessness? “People really treat you like crap… I wish we could trade shoes just for one day and see if you could make it.”

One day at VCU, a woman and a bunch of kids walked by and said out loud “I could only imagine”. I’m not sure you want to, lady. I wish she would have stopped and offered a kind gesture instead of just making her statement, but that is EXACTLY WHY we have started Homeless Looks Like. We want to spread awareness.

What do you want your life to look like one year from now? “To have an apartment, and have a car.”

Want to know what ended up happening with John? If you read our last blog post about his fiance Kisha…you already know! They ARE currently warm and in an apartment!!! Praise Jesus!

Thank you for reading about John and giving him a voice. You insist his story matters just by reading it. You are a big part of what is going to change people’s lives… THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike



Shallow question answers from John HERE: