Rising Above: Latesha’s Story of Success

Rising Above: Latesha’s Story of Success

STORIES OF CHANGE
Latesha and son
Article & Photographs by Maggie Lynn

Losing a family member is difficult even when everything else is going right. For someone trying to break the cycle of helplessness, it can be the event that knocks you down. But after losing her mother to a prolonged illness, Latesha knew she needed to rise above the challenges in her life and make a change for good.

Leaving Florida behind, she came to Savannah looking to rebuild her life and create a future of hope for her four sons. She looked online to find somewhere that would give her the tools she needed to create that brighter future – her search led her to Union Mission’s Magdalene House, an emergency shelter for women with children.

“It was hard for everybody at first because nobody wants to leave home or expects to come and stay at a shelter. I work and I save as much as I can save because I have to help myself and my kids.”

Within two weeks, Latesha found a job and by the end of her 90 days at Magdalene House, she had saved enough money to move her family into their own apartment. Now, she says, they have a fresh start and a chance at a new life.
“Union Mission helped me out and it helps a lot of families out. They do as much as they can,” she explained. “Even in my situation, in my future, I’m going to support them and help families because they helped my family.”

The support you shared with Union Mission made it possible for Latesha to find help and safety for herself and her children when they had nowhere else to turn. Thank you for making change possible in our community!

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STORIES OF CHANGE
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From Substance Abuse to a Substantial Future: Shane’s Story of Success

From Substance Abuse to a Substantial Future: Shane’s Story of Success

STORIES OF CHANGE

Shane

Photograph by Maggie Lynn, Article by Andrea Six

CHALLENGES ARE A PART OF LIFE but when they hit you all at once, would you be able to stand strong? Without support or family to lean on, it can be easy to fall down when times get tough. This is where Shane found himself after moving to Georgia.

A car accident at the age of 20 left him with no job and the medication they gave him to cope with the pain turned into an addiction that dragged him into homelessness. Shane came to Savannah for substance abuse rehabilitation, and after intense treatment, was clean, sober, and ready to rebuild his life.

With a clean bill of health, Shane left Savannah for a job in West Virginia. After losing one brother to cancer and another brother to a car accident within the span of a few days, Shane relapsed and found himself back on the street again.

He returned to Savannah and the program that helped him gain his sobriety the first time. After completing rehabilitation, he wanted to continue radically changing his life and came to Union Mission for culinary arts training.

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” he explained. “Over the past 15 years, most of my work experience has come from working in restaurants. I like the environment and I like to cook.”

His supervisor at Salvation Army told him all about the free eight-week Culinary Arts program at Union Mission and how he could not only get training from professional chefs, but also have a chance to obtain his Serv-Safe Certification. This, and a little inspiration from a friend, led Shane to apply to the program.

“I like to serve people. I haven’t always been that way, but I do have a passion for this type of work.”

Shane is striving to be a better father to his son and show his nieces and nephews that it is possible to turn your life around. He continues to work towards his goal of managing and, hopefully, owning a restaurant of his own.

“I want to own a restaurant or if I never own it – if God doesn’t have that in mind for me – I want to manage one,” he said. “I’ve worked all around the kitchen from the dishes to a fry cook to grill cook to broil, you name it, I’ve worked it. And I’m learning more here as far as the Serv-Safe test that I’ve taken.”

 

“Programs like this are not everywhere. People just don’t give you an opportunity like this – to better yourself, to make your future look brighter.”

Thanks to the generous donors, community partners, and volunteers who support Union Mission, the helping hand that Shane received is still available for those looking to transform their lives and leave homelessness behind. Thank you for sharing hope and help in our community!

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STORIES OF CHANGE

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Choosing Hope: Shamaine’s Story

Choosing Hope: Shamaine’s Story

STORIES OF CHANGE

Shamaine

Shamaine

Photograph and Article by Maggie Lynn

For many, family is an incredible blessing in times of struggle. When the family itself is in crisis, the comfort of home can quickly transform into a battlefield. For Shamaine, fighting that battle threatened  not just her stability, but also that of her four year old son.

The grandfather who raised her passed away and her grandmother was diagnosed with dementia soon after. Shamaine quit her job to help provide family care, and though she was surrounded by family, she found herself all alone. The burden of caregiving, combined with the damaging habits of those in her family, took a heavy toll on Shamaine and her son.

The final straw came when family members refused to care for her grandmother for a few hours so she could sign her son  up for pre-kindergarten.

“He’s been picked on the lottery,” she told them. “If I don’t go sign him up, they will give his seat away.”

No one showed up and her son lost his space in the Pre-K class.

“I couldn’t keep doing it,” she said. “I had to get my life in order for the sake of my child.”

With her family spiraling out of control, she moved out of her grandmother’s house and moved in with her brother. But her brother’s house was no place for a young child and Shamaine then reached out to a friend she describes as like a sister to her. She was living with her friend when she learned about Union Mission.

 

Shamaine At Work

When Shamaine called to learn more about Magdalene House, she learned  about  the Culinary Arts Program . She applied and was accepted into the eight-week program, which put her on track to obtaining real-world kitchen skills and  a Serv-Safe  certification. It also put  her  one step closer to her  dream of someday opening  her  own  restaurant.

“Union Mission gives individuals a chance to relive a dream again,” she said. “It’s given me the strength to know that everybody will overcome obstacles but it’s up to you – you have to push and take the initiative.”

Shamaine’s next goal is to find a job, after which she hopes to go back to school, get her GED, and study business management. At Union Mission, she learned the skills to take on the challenges she’s facing – skills that will help her win her fight against homelessness.

“I’m going to fight in a different way. I’m going to fight with success,” Shamaine said.

Shamaine’s next goal is to find a job, after which she hopes to go back to school, get her GED, and study business management. At Union Mission, she learned the skills to take on the challenges she’s facing – skills that will help her win her fight against homelessness.

“I’m going to fight in a different way. I’m going to fight with success,” Shamaine said.

STORIES OF CHANGE

A Place to Rebuild: Jennifer’s Story

A Place to Rebuild: Jennifer’s Story

STORIES OF CHANGE

Jennifer

Photograph by Maggie Lynn, Article by Andrea Six

Motherhood is a balancing act. Keeping everything going, even when things get rough, is just part of the job description. When Mom gets sick, it can be a real challenge for the family to keep that balance. When the illness is prolonged and Mom is sick for months, that balance can disappear completely, along with the family’s stability. That’s what happened to Jennifer and her two children. 

“Once I become ill, it takes about nine months for me to fully recover,” she explained.

She’d faced similar challenges in the past but this time was much worse. Despite her illness, she wanted to ensure her children had what they needed.

“Having children and being homeless is more overwhelming. It’s more stressful because, as a mother, you want to protect your kids. You want their feelings to be protected, you don’t want them to be so concerned about what’s going on. You don’t want them to try and mature too quickly,” Jennifer said.

She turned to her family for a helping hand but that only led to more instability and, eventually, Jennifer and her kids were back on the street. With her support system gone, Jennifer knew she needed more than just a shelter. Looking for real help to rebuild her life, she found Union Mission’s Magdalene House.

 

Living at the Magdalene House with other single mothers helped Jennifer provide her kids with some stability – a safe place to rest, recharge, and rebuild. It also showed her that change was possible. With Union Mission’s help, Jennifer has not just found a place to stay, but a program dedicated to providing her the help she needs to take those next steps.

“I think the most positive thing is that you have someone there working with you that’s able to obtain resources along with you. Right now I am working on getting a job. I’m actually working on three things: one is a job, the second is a place of my own, and also insurance for myself and my children,” Jennifer said.

Union Mission exists to help mothers just like Jennifer rebuild their lives and leave their homelessness behind. Your support means hope for a better tomorrow for homeless mothers and children. Thank you for sharing hope and help in our community!

STORIES OF CHANGE

STORIES OF CHANGE

Home Safe: Logan’s Story

Home Safe: Logan’s Story

Logan and her children

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

STORIES OF SUCCESS

Home Safe: Logan’s Story

Homelessness can happen for many different reasons. A victim of domestic violence, with no network of support, can quickly find she’s exchanged one perilous living situation for another. Bravely leaving behind an abusive relationship, Logan knows all too well that the best choice for a family can be the one that leads to a homeless shelter.

After finding help at Magdalene Project, she also knows that having support can make a big difference. The support she received from Union Mission gave her the tools to rebuild her life.

“Having grown up in foster care, I don’t have any family or anything like it,” Logan said. “So that was the reason I stayed so long … not having that support system.”

With no support and nowhere to turn, she knew she needed tools to leave homelessness behind and move her family into safe, stable housing.  Union Mission’s emergency shelter for women, Magdalene Project, gave her those tools.

“It was important because I needed time to get back on my feet,” Logan said. “Magdalene Project gave us a safe place to live where I could care for my children while I got back to work.”

Being homeless with children is a difficult situation but trying to overcome homelessness while parenting a child with special needs an be overwhelming. Logan has two children – a son who is 8 years old and a daughter who is 14 years old and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Magdalene Project provided Logan with the ability to take of her children and meet their needs.

“It promotes family. It keeps women with their children,” Logan said.”I needed help – help I couldn’t get anywhere else – in order to be successful and to provide.”

Union Mission gave Logan the ability to keep her family together while she found work and a new home for them to call their own. Thanks to those who continue to support Union Mission, families like Logan’s will find the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Building a Brighter Future: Greg’s Story

Building a Brighter Future: Greg’s Story

Greg

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

STORIES OF SUCCESS

Building a Brighter Future: Greg’s Story

Working your way out of homelessness is not an easy task, and nearly impossible alone – especially when you’re also dealing with problems with the law and drug addiction. Too often, these challenges lead to a cycle of homelessness that can be hard to overcome. Thanks to your support, Greg was able to find a helping hand to break the cycle of homelessness and rebuild his life.

Greg was someone who found himself stuck in this loop of hopelessness, ending up in prison time after time with nowhere to go when he was released. Living in small town far from help, Greg couldn’t find the resources he needed to break this vicious cycle. Over 30 years of homelessness and addiction, Greg cycled from marijuana to cocaine and crack. Despite a strong aptitude for cooking, he was unable to find and keep a job without access to a strong support system.

“I thought once I quit doing drugs everything would be ok. But the drugs weren’t the root of the problem. The root of the problem was I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t care about who I was, and didn’t know who I was supposed to be,” Greg explained.

“I thought all missions were a place to eat and sleep, but no; the two I’ve dealt with, there’s so much more inside the mission,” Greg said. “If you get into the programs, they offer a way out, show a way out and then they walk you through.”

In the Culinary Arts Training Program, Greg developed his cooking skills and obtained a ServSafe Certification. This certification helps give him an edge in the competitive culinary field in Savannah, where Greg hopes to find steady employment.

“I like to cook and I’d like to stay in the mission.” Greg said. “I’d love to be able to go back to my hometown and work some type of mission. To start some type of mission to help the other people there, because there’s not much help there.”

 

 

With the help of Union Mission, Greg is ready to rebuild his life after 30 years of homelessness. He’s looking forward to giving back to the community that has given him his second chance. Thanks to those who give generously to Union Mission, the help Greg received is still available to others working to leave homelessness behind.

Help Create a Brighter Future at Union Mission

Your donation can help someone like Greg choose a life of hope and help them leave homelessness behind. Your gift today means a brighter future for those we serve, their families, and our whole community.