So, who is LaTonia? Let’s start with the basics, I am an African American woman from Detroit, MI. I am the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, Imani who is 14 years old. I am also the mother of an angel, my first daughter LaDae’jha, who was also beautiful and is in heaven. By profession I am a Social Worker and Coach at a Detroit homeless shelter, where I work with homeless and vulnerable women to help them become self-sufficient.
A little about my history that has led me to this point. I was a teenage mother, having my first child at the age of 14. My daughter, LaDae’jha passed away when she was 4 ½ years old. After the loss of my daughter I was devastated, hurt, lost, and confused. This was coupled with the baggage I carried from problems in my childhood. From the ages of 19 to 21 I was homeless. Not the homeless person who you see on the street, but I endured a two-year period instability, going from family, to friends, to hotels, to a shelter (for one night only), to male acquaintances, and so on. I became a stripper at the age of 21. To most people, it would appear counterintuitive, but during this period I found my stability, started back to college, and started my healing process (more about that later). I was a stripper for 3 years, and then at the age of 24, after attending a Christian women’s conference, God literally stopped me dead in my tracks and told me to stop. I stopped immediately. The next few years I worked, continued in school, and gave birth to my second daughter Imani.
In 2005, after eleven years of starting and stopping, I finally finished college, earning my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baker College. I then started the process of building a career in the non-profit industry. I advanced quickly, but then in 2009 I was laid off from work. I was already planning to attend school again part time to work on my Master’s degree, so after the layoff I decided to use the time to attend school full time. In 2011, I graduated from Wayne State University with a Master’s degree in Social Work. At this point, I was honed in on my career goals. I knew that I wanted to work with women in need, particularly homeless and vulnerable women; I knew that I wanted to work in a homeless shelter; and I knew that I wanted to be a leader in the non-profit industry. By the way, there are so many stories and experiences between all of this, the loss of my father, the tumultuous relationship with my mother, the recent death of my mother and revelation of her mental illness, marriage, divorce, home ownership, family stuff, church stuff, wonderful friendships, intimate relationships, and so on. But I will talk more about those experiences at a later date. I often joke that like a cat I have lived 9 lives! I have been a teenage mother, a single mother, a married mother, a stripper, a church girl, a home owner, had jobs, lost jobs, been in leadership, had no money, had a little money, been depressed and suicidal, and so much more. Most people live one way, single dimensional, but I have a multidimensional experience. Which leads to…………………….
Why do I have a blog? I started a blog in this my 40th year of life because I have something to say! I have overcome many obstacles and challenges in my life and I am ready to share my story on a platform that will educate and encourage other people. I am in no way glorifying the negative experiences of my past, on the contrary I am a living example that despite your past, you can have a positive future. My experiences have led me to my purpose, which is to assist women in need. Not just homeless women, but women who have faced or are facing challenges and want to change the trajectory of their lives. Being in need is about more than just housing or money. There are women all around me who are hurting and do not know how to heal. There are also many who want something different for themselves, but do not know how to get it. Both of these scenarios used to be me.
I want to share my experiences and the multitude of sources which have helped me along my path. First and foremost, God, then also family, definitely MY FRIENDS, celebrities and public figures, education, BOOKS, music, and much more. Being a Social Worker some topics will be on the social issues of homelessness and poverty, which is my area of concentration. I hope that you will come along with me on this journey and share yours with me too. I would like each posting to be dialogue, share your experiences with me, tell me your thoughts, and let’s grow together.