LaShenda Williams was feeling increasingly hopeless. With a history of dealing with drug addiction and abuse, she was homeless for about a year. For many months during the day she would drive around to different locations, but most nights she would park outside of the same Kroger grocery store in Nashville, Tennessee, and sleep in the parking lot.
“I would lean my seat all the way back so no one would see me because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there,” Williams said. A familiar feeling for anyone who has tried to find rest for a night that didn’t cost them more than they had or put their lives at risk.
But all of that changed when LaShenda met someone who was willing to give her a helping hand instead of asking her to move on. That was Kroger employee Jackie Vandal who oversees hiring at the grocer. Late last year Jackie told LaShenda of a job fair that was taking place, “It was just a sense, a gut feeling,” Vandal said. “You can just tell when people are really genuine and people you know are trying.”
On the day of the job fair LaShenda was one of the first people there, and Jackie spent several hours helping her fill out the online job application. When she was done and Jackie reviewed her credentials, she hired her on the spot. That led to LaShenda starting work in December of last year, just a few days after the job fair.
She works there still, monitoring and helping customers in the self-checkout lanes, and her life is changed. She has moved out of her car and into a one-bedroom apartment, which her new co-workers helped her set up and furnish. Local community members and fellow employees donated furniture, household items, clothes and shoes to “help her get back on her feet.” said Melissa Eads, the corporate affairs manager for the Kroger Nashville division.
LaShenda is grateful for this new lease on life. “For the very first time in my life, now I know what love is,” she said tearfully. “Now I know what friendship is.”
Eads says that Williams is a great employee, “We are so lucky to have Lashenda as part of our Kroger family,” said Eads. “Her uplifting spirit is contagious. She has made such a positive impact on her fellow team members, and so many customers as well.”.
This is what can happen when people get the support they need. LaShenda Williams is an example of the success someone can have when given a chance; and she’s your Good News Story of the Day, which you can find in full here.
But she is also a reminder that we don’t need park benches with spikes on them so that no one can lie down on them. Or to constantly be destroying encampments just so those people have to build up another one; still having no where to go. Nor do we need to lock them up just to get them off the street.
We need to give people work, homes, clothes, and a chance at life; as many times as they need. Sometimes with counselling or a guiding hand to get them started. Love is what we need to show those who are homeless. The same love we would all hope to be shown in our struggles.
Story and Image from Today.