Shonna's Story "Homelessness Doesn’t Discriminate"

I grew up in Georgia, raised by my military father. My mom left my brother and I when I was two. It was hard, I can’t pretend it wasn’t.

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When I was 17, I got pregnant. My dad wasn’t too happy about that but, you know, the best thing I ever did was have a baby. After finding out that I was pregnant, I finished high school and got married. Our marriage lasted for 8 years before it ended in divorce.

When my son was 13, he passed away. I guess that’s when it happened; when I started doing drugs. I used just to get through the days.

Now being clean for 1 year and 7 months, I can look back and say that while it did help numb the pain, it doesn’t take away the problem. You still have your problems. And now, I’ve still got my problems but I deal with them.

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I think a lot of people don’t realize that most of us are only one paycheck from being  homeless. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate. When I became homeless, I was fleeing a domestic violence situation. That’s what made me homeless. People seem to think that all homeless people are bad and they treat us all that way. People generalize us, you know? Either people think we all get high or we all drink but that’s just not true.

My husband and I are homeless right now because we are trying to save up our paychecks. We had a place of our own but my husband needed an emergency surgery and was out of work for a month so we had to come back to the streets. But I’m not a bum; I work 6 days a week. In fact, in 2 weeks, we’ll have our own place again.

But what I hate the most is that everyone treats homeless people one certain way. For example, when I get on the bus, no one really pays attention to me if I don’t have all of my stuff. If I have all my bags with me, though, people look at me much different.

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We’re not all bad. I’m not out here spending my paycheck on drugs or alcohol. I’m saving towards something.

I’ve actually met a lot of really good people out here who are homeless. Sure, some people steal, some people are greedy, some people buy drugs and alcohol, but not everyone.

I think people should spend more time getting to know us.

That’s one of the things I love about my job. Everyone at work knows I’m homeless but they treat me the same as anyone else. Some of my co-workers have even offered me a place to stay.

When I get my own place, I look forward to coming back to Safe to Sleep and volunteering. I want to give back because, like I said, homeless doesn’t make you a bad person. You can’t judge people like that.

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A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF SAFE TO SLEEP

Perhaps you have heard of Safe to Sleep, an emergency overnight women’s shelter. We provide women of all ages a safe and compassionate place to sleep. A volunteer staff assures a welcoming and peaceful evening, with snacks and a shower. We rely entirely on volunteers, donations, and the kindness of community churches to provide this service. (Romona Baker – Director)
 
WHO NEEDS SAFE TO SLEEP?Every single night of the year, homeless women need a safe place to sleep.These women may be:
 
Elderly without rent money
Victims of domestic violence
Recently unemployed
Lost roommate and evicted
High medical bills
All ages; each a unique situation
 
Each night there are 30-40 women seeking safety at Safe to Sleep. Sometimes, there are up to four new women a night. Since 2011, Safe to Sleep has served more than 1600 different women.
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SAFE TO SLEEP OR TO HELP OUT, CLICK HERE