Vida Smith sharing her story of survival and struggle from domestic violence and being a homeless mother to a successful PhD candidate truly inspired me — as I listened to her story as part of Family Promise SPBC’s Sharing Survival Stories Saturday. My role at Family Promise is to interview the storyteller and prep them for going live or being recorded. Over the course of two days/six hours, I was enthralled with Vida’s story of leaving her homeland of Ghana and moving to the United States after getting married to a seemingly nice American man. Once here, she suffered terrible mental and physical abuse from a very controlling husband, who wanted to dominate her in every way – to the point, she was held hostage in her own house. When she had her daughters, the abuse worsened for her until one day with the help of an angel (her neighbor), she escaped with her children. Through local social services, Vida and her daughters were able to find housing and much needed help and guidance. Vida said that it is through her faith in God that she overcame this terrible situation. She decided to draw upon her inner strength to become the person and mother she wanted to be. She chose to be a role model to her daughters and not a victim. Today, she is working full-time AND earning her PhD in Leadership. How this story impacted me. Listening to her story, I thought how many other women, moms and children are out there – that go unnoticed as abused or trafficked. As a result, of her story (I’m getting emotional as I write), I have found a church that helps with abuse and human trafficking and aim to be an integral part of this mission.
Family Promise of South Palm Beach County through the BeWell DoWell mini-grant began our series of speakers for “Sharing Survival Stories Saturday” on November 7, 2020. The purpose of the series of eight speakers over the next twelve months is for formerly homeless mothers to share their story of how they overcame extreme adversity and challenges and draw from their strength to become successful women, business leaders and mothers.Our first speaker was Shandra Stringer, who left the care of her grandmother at 16 years old, to escape a harsh life and to focus finishing high school. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and then a Masters in Non-profit Management all the while raising her daughter. She worked two jobs and at one point she had to make the financial decision of either paying her rent or her car payment. Since she needed a way to get to work, she decided they would have to live in the car for a few weeks. Shandra stressed that she never felt like a victim and that through her village – her church and her friends, Shandra went on to become a successful motivational speaker, an entrepreneur of three companies and above all else an excellent example of what one can do in life. Her motto is .If I Can Help Somebody along the Way then My Living is not in Vain
Family Promise of South Palm Beach County is very excited about our first event “Sharing Survival Stories Saturday” on November 7th. It is through the BeWell DoWell mini-grant that our idea of sharing stories of single mothers surviving homelessness to thrive as successful women, mothers and entrepreneurs. The goal is to motivate and support the moms as they journey on their road to success!