Shawnta’s Story of Transformation

Turning Nightmares Into Dreams

Homeless and living in a car, a mother makes a desperate decision to give her daughter a better future.

Every precious child deserves a childhood. Every loving mother . dreams of a better future for their children. But sometimes, a family’s dreams turn into a nightmare—like they did for Shawnta and her 8-year-old daughter, Starcia.

For 14 years, Shawnta worked for the DMV in Baltimore, Maryland, and provided a safe, loving home for Starcia. But one day, she lost childcare for Starcia—and that’s when everything changed.

“When I lost my childcare and couldn’t work regularly, they let me go,” Shawnta says. “Then I couldn’t find another job because I couldn’t afford childcare anymore. I ended up losing my home and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t know what to do.” Her nightmare grew darker—and so did Starcia’s.

“I used to sleep in the backseat of our car,” little Starcia remembers. “It was cold, but Mommy gave me lots of blankets. She cried a lot. I had scary dreams.”

The memory still breaks Shawnta’s heart.

“My life was chaotic, crazy, and dysfunctional,” she recalls. “Everything was so dark and confusing, I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. I was so scared, I couldn’t sleep.”

One day, Shawnta got online to search for family shelters. Atlanta Mission was at the top of the list. Even though she lived in Baltimore, something inside her said, “Go.” So Shawnta spent the last money she had for bus tickets to Atlanta.

When they arrived, they came straight to Atlanta Mission. Then Shawnta wept. “That first night, I slept through for the first timein years because I knew Starcia was safe,” Shawnta says. “Then I got up the next morning and I was on a mission.”

Shawnta immediately enrolled Starcia in the local elementary school. Then, within weeks, Shawnta found a job—and new hope for a brighter future.

“Over the past year, Atlanta Mission provided us with everything we needed,” Shawnta says. “Food, clothes, transportation, childcare, counseling, everything.”

But best of all, Shawnta got to see Starcia be a child again—and thrive, especially at school. “Math is her favorite subject, and she’s excelling,” Shawnta says proudly. “And she’s made so many friends! She loves it here.”

Today, Shawnta and Starcia are preparing to move into their own apartment . But she says this to caring people like you: “You reminded us that we have value. We are actually worth it, and we can become functional again. We’re going to make it!”

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