Alisha cannot believe how far she has come since she graduated from Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission’s home for women with children – Wayne Hall – in December of 2015. A short time ago, she and her 4-year-old son Amari were homeless and slept on people’s couches. But today, she rents a house in West Philadelphia, is a college student, and the supervisor at a grocery store.
Although Alisha has made great progress in her life, Alisha’s season of hardship is never far from her mind. Memories of the adversity she faced and the lessons she learned at Wayne Hall motivate Alisha as she pursues an associate’s degree in computer information technology and cares for Amari. “I’m not going backwards again; that will not happen,” she shares. “I’m only moving forward.”
Alisha’s first step forward began when she decided to create a safe and secure home for herself and her son. As a child, Alisha was in foster care while her mother was in prison and her father was absent from her life. When her mother was released, she regained custody of Alisha but failed to create a stable home for her. Alisha spent her adolescence sleeping on the couches of relatives and friends alongside her mother, and later with her son when she had him at 19-years-old.
Yearning for the day she would have a home of her own, Alisha sought assistance at a family service agency in Center City Philadelphia. Determined to secure housing, she arrived early to be first in line to see a case manager. But when her name was not called, frustration set in.
“I was there all day, but no one could see me because there were so many people,” she explains. “I was told to come back the next day. I started shouting, demanding that someone help me. I was offered bus tokens home, and shouted, ‘I don’t have a home! I have no place to go with two tokens!’”
A social worker gave Alisha the number to Wayne Hall. Desperate, Alisha called right away and learned that they had space for her and Amari. After a phone interview, Alisha was accepted into Wayne Hall in March of 2015, two days after she made that call. For the first time in years, Alisha had a secure place to stay.
The environment at Wayne Hall was different than what Alisha was used to. She had chores, a curfew, and attended Bible classes for the first time in years. But her time at Wayne Hall ignited her desire to follow God and model her life after Jesus’ teachings in the Bible.
“Alisha is focused and worked hard at Wayne Hall,” shares Sister Rita Whitaker, Director of Women’s Ministry. “She was grateful; she never said a negative word, or had a negative attitude or incident. She is very special to us. It was truly a privilege to serve her. This is hard work, but she made it all worth it.”
While in the program Alisha flourished and so did her confidence. She began to realize that she could do anything she set her mind to. And with God now a pillar in her life, she believed He would be by her side as she took another step forward. Alisha graduated from Wayne Hall in December of 2015 and entered a housing program that helps low-income and homeless families become self-sufficient through long-term housing and education.
“The staff at Wayne Hall helped me transition into my new program,” Alisha explains. “My case manager Sister Kelly came with me to sign my lease, and they have supported me through the entire process. I am so grateful for them.”
As Alisha continues to take each day, one step at a time, she is happy to be on the right track. She is two semesters away from completing her associate’s degree and hopes to acquire a job in the IT department of a major company one day. “There are many homeless women with children in Philadelphia,” she shares. “When I see them, I just want to give them a hug and tell them about Wayne Hall. I don’t know where I’d be without Wayne Hall. There should be a Wayne Hall on every corner in the city.”