So, who is LaTonia? Let’s start with the basics, I am an African American woman from Detroit, MI. The Eastside of Detroit to be exact! I am the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, Imani who is 16 years old.
I am the Lead Social Worker and Life Coach at COTS, a family homeless shelter in the City of Detroit. There I work with homeless and vulnerable women to help them overcome obstacles, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient. It is a long journey, as most of the women are from generational poverty. I walk with them along this journey and support them in changing their lives for the good.
I am also the Founder and CEO of The Ladies League of Detroit. It is a supportive group for women in Detroit. We meet twice monthly to share, network, socialize, and support each other. I found that after my work with women who were in need, there was nothing for myself and my peers. So, I started a network where middle ground women could provide support to each other.
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. I was only 19 years old and was dealing with one of the most devastating life experiences that anyone could ever have. Right after this tragedy, 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 of instability. At the age of 21 I became a stripper. During this time, I found my independence and started back in college. After 3 years of working in that industry, at the age of 24, I attended a Christian women’s conference, and God changed my life. When I tried to return to work in that industry, God literally stopped me dead in my tracks and told me to stop. I stopped immediately! The next few years is when I received my deliverance and my life changed. I still faced many challenges, but after that, nothing was ever the same. I worked, continued in college, 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. Following that, 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, marriage, divorce, home ownership, family stuff, church stuff, wonderful friendships, intimate relationships, and so on. I often joke that like a cat I have lived 9 lives! I have been a teenage mother, single mother, married mother, stripper, church girl, home owner, had jobs, lost jobs, had no money, had a little money, been depressed and suicidal, been happy and successful, and so much more. Most people have lived one way, single dimensional, but I have a multidimensional experience.
Which leads to…………………….
Why do I have a blog? I started this blog for my 40th birthday in May 2016. At forty I realized that 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 motivate and support women. I work with women in need, and I work with successful women. I encourage, support, and mentor women. I am them and they are me.