“I was 17 years old when my mom died,” said Tanisha. “I pretty much grew up without any parents. My mom was a drug addict, and my dad was never in the picture. Shortly after my mom died, I gave birth to my first child. I got married really young. But when my baby was four years old, her father took her and left me. It broke my heart. I haven’t seen her in 12 years.”
Life has not been easy for Tanisha. She went on to have four more children and spent eight years with their father before becoming a single mom. “Their dad chose a life on the streets over his children. He was abusive towards me. I wanted better for me and my kids.”
Efforts to receive help from her family fell on deaf ears. “My sisters didn’t want to help. I was desperate and didn’t have anyone to turn to. I attempted suicide years ago, but my children and a lot of prayer saved me. I wasn’t about to give up. I called every shelter inside and outside of Nashville before I found Nashville Rescue Mission. No one was willing to help me—a mom with four kids. I don’t know where I would have gone were it not for the Mission. I would probably have lost my kids.”
With three children in school (9, 8, and 5) and one less than a year old, Tanisha faced a number of challenges living in a shelter. “When we first got to the Mission, I was so scared,” recalled Tanisha. “I didn’t know what to expect. I think I cried for a week straight before I got into the routine of things. Once I got over the initial shock, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We were safe. We were well fed. The staff was great—always willing to help.”
Tanisha discovered raising her kids in this type of environment would prove to be extremely difficult. “It was hard,” she said. “We had good days and bad days. I know the kids changed while we were staying at the Mission. They went from being quiet to at times being somewhat disrespectful. I tried explaining to them it was only temporary. But that’s expecting a lot from little kids to understand our situation. There was not a lot of space or privacy, but we stayed safe and that’s what matters most.”
While at the Mission, Tanisha experienced community in new ways. “I have family now. Something I never really had before. I made friends—lots of friends. It took me a while to realize that I didn’t have to keep running, living with different people, moving from place to place. For me, the Mission became a place where I could try to get my life the way I wanted it to be.”
Along with the challenges came lots of questions. “I questioned God when I got to the Mission,” said Tanisha. “I was angry. I was mad. I cried out to God asking, ‘Why did you put me in this situation? What’s my purpose of being here?’ Over time I started reading my Bible—every day—in front of my children. At every meal, we would sit down together, we would pray together, and we would talk.
As strange as it sounds, it was really good for my family. It brought us closer together. The people around me were saying, ‘You’re a different person now. You didn’t use to smile. Now it seems like you can’t stop smiling.’ I tell them I’m happy, because I have hope.”
ON THIS DAY, Tanisha is filled with more than just hope—she is filled with joy. This Christmas, she will be celebrating the holidays at home surrounded by her children.“I’m extremely grateful for the help I received,” exclaimed Tanisha. “Thank you! I’m so excited about our future. Next on my list is to get my high school diploma so I can get a good job and provide for me and my kids. Life just keeps getting better.”
As Tanisha and her four children celebrate Christmas this year in their home and not on the streets, or in a shelter, or sleeping on someone’s couch, take a minute to savor this moment and rejoice in the fact that with your help, she and others like her are finding a safe place to rest in the midst of their trials. Because of you, homeless women and mothers with children have a place they can turn to not just on holidays, but every day. And in the sanctuary of shelter, they can find hope. Because of generous donations … hope lives here. Will you help to make sure others like Tanisha have an encounter with hope and a second chance?
You can make a donation here.