Romona "I'm Not That Special"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

Romona's story was brought to you in partnership with Safe to Sleep Women's Shelter:

Romona is the Founder and Church & Community Coordinator for Safe to Sleep. This is her story...

They say, “Thank you for doing what you do. I so admire what you have accomplished." I don’t know what to say. What choice do I have? It wasn’t my idea.

When I quit teaching to work with Rainbow Network on community development in Nicaragua, raising money and escorting work groups, the long hours sometimes made me think, “Romona, get a life.” Then I would realize others envied the life I had.

They say, “I would love to do what you do!" And I want to say, “You can have it!" But what I should say is, “What are you willing to give up to do what you think God wants you to do?”

I’m nothing special. I grew up in a loving, supportive family. My husband and I celebrated 50 years of marriage this year. I’ve only observed dysfunctional families from the outside. I never knew an alcoholic. The compassion comes not from experience but somewhere else and only when I am willing to do right now what God puts in front of me.


Roaming fields and woods with my friends and my BB gun and cowboy boots, learning to grease my own car as a teen, teaching about Galileo by dropping fruit from a tilted stool on top of my lab desk, cooking something different every night for a month when we were newly married, lugging my baby to the nearby library to get out of the house and practice sketching his little hands, only making it 13 miles on my first bicycle ride with my husband but then conquering the 70 mile hill in Zimbabwe, riding with mission teams in the back of Old Blue (the pickup truck) in Managua, Nicaragua – none of that prepared me to walk into a gymnasium in the morning and start calling each of the thirty women in the homeless shelter by name, giving a smile and “good morning,” a touch on the shoulder or even a hug. It’s a God thing.

Forcing myself to get up at 4am to check in at Safe to Sleep, I pray that God will allow me to slow down and dispense dignity and grace. Make eye contact, smile and listen to their answer when I ask, “How are you this morning?” When someone says “Thank you,” I know God was listening to my prayer.

If I know what God wants at this moment, how dare I not do it? Write a letter? Quit my Job? Start a women's shelter? Make cookies with my granddaughter? What an adventure, but don’t envy me. The nature of God’s adventures are usually boring, sometimes scary and often impossible. I like Fredrick Buechner’s quote, “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you a high and driving peace. I will condemn you to death.”  

What makes me different? Absolutely nothing! Try it for a day. What should you do now, right now? What should you not be doing? Usually we know (I should not be eating that candy bar. I should go apologize. I should get more rest. Be sure to call my friend. Send a get well card. Volunteer at a homeless women’s shelter. Compliment my co-worker). There is joy in following God’s Spirit nudges, in doing more than seems possible and watching the unending coincidences. This is the life God offers each of us. Listen and “just do it.” You are special!

March 2018


Romona's Story was brought to you in partnership with Safe to Sleep Women's Shelter:


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 – Founder of Safe to Sleep)

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.