Stories of Hope: Meet Latoya
Thank you for giving Latoya a new beginning.
Because of you, she has joy in her heart this Easter!
“I felt lost and spiritually empty…”
When Latoya was a little girl, she longed for someone to love her, to nurture and guide her, to help her find her way in the world. “I was surrounded by narcissistic people who didn’t want me to do well in life and I experienced a lot of manipulation and abuse,” she says. “It really impacted my self-confidence.”
When it was time to leave home, Latoya went into the world without a sense of identity or the tools she needed to successfully navigate life. “I felt lost and confused.”
Eventually, she wound up homeless and, while she was struggling to meet her physical needs, she became aware of a spiritual hunger, as well. “I didn’t have a relationship with God. I felt spiritually empty, but I didn’t know where to find Him,” she says.
Then, one day, while searching for shelters online, Latoya found Dallas LIFE, and she knew it was the answer. “Something told me to come here.”
She was deeply grateful for the warm meals and comfortable bed she found at our shelter, but she wanted more than survival, she wanted to find healing and wholeness. That’s when she entered our Homeless No More Program, where chapel services, Bible studies and Christ-centered recovery classes led her to a personal relationship with the Lord. “I’ve gotten to know and trust God,” she says.
“I’ve realized how much God loves me.”
Latoya’s growing faith, along with one-on-one counseling and Christian fellowship, have helped her find emotional healing and embrace the woman God created her to be. “I’ve processed everything that happened to me and I’m getting to know, accept and be compassionate with myself.”
She is now able to talk with other women at Dallas LIFE with her who are on their own journeys of healing. “I share my testimony to comfort and encourage them,” she says.
With Jesus’ love in her heart and hope for the future, Latoya is grateful for your support this Easter. “Dallas LIFE helped me discover who I truly am. Now I have a purpose. I’m here to do God’s will.”
Help Others Like Latoya
Latoya’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our recovery programs exist to help other neighbors find healing. Will you provide this help to others?
More Stories of Hope
The best Christmas gift there is –
Zak has joy and new life, thanks to you!
“I wanted a place to stay to get my life back on track…”
As a teen, Zak was introduced to drugs by an older friend, and he used them occasionally, until COVID hit. As a result of the pandemic, his job ended and he had time to fill. “Then using became an everyday thing,” he says. And it took a dramatic toll on his life.
“When my unemployment ran out and I needed to start working again, I didn’t have the will or the will power,” he shares. “Becoming a functioning member of society was much harder.” His life spiraled downhill, he lost his home and he stayed with whoever would take him in until he wore out his welcome. Finally he found himself on the streets… cold, hungry and alone. “That was the worst part,” he recalls.
Then, he stumbled upon Dallas LIFE. “It said Homeless Recovery Center on the side, and I was tired of being homeless. I wanted a place to stay to get my life back on track.”
“There are different forms of homelessness. If you’re living with a buddy and you don’t have a key to the place, you’re homeless.”
Now in our care, Zak is harnessing God’s strength to overcome his destructive habits. “My spiritual experience and journey are very real to me,” he says. Classes including anger management, budgeting and job readiness are empowering him with skills to regain his independence, and the structure of his daily routine is helping him learn the importance of staying productive and keeping his mind busy.
As he grows healthier physically, mentally and spiritually, Zak has no desire to return to the environment of his past. Instead, he plans to find a stable job, get a car and a place to live, and mend fences with family and others he hurt or disappointed.
Zak is excited to celebrate the restored hope he has been given this Christmas – and wants YOU to know just how grateful he is. “There’s a lotta people out there like me who need a place to go and people who believe in ‘em and won’t give up on ‘em.” For Zak that place was Dallas LIFE.
Zak’s story appears in the Holiday 2022 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Dustin is grateful & blessed this Thanksgiving
You’ve given him hope and new life this holiday!
A domestic dispute ended with jail time for Dustin and the pain of a broken relationship. He moved in with a friend and began drinking heavily to soothe his frustration and heartbreak.
Instead, he fell into depression… and tried to take his own life. “I’d gotten to the point of what’s the point of it all.” Yet by the grace of God, he survived.
Denying his own vulnerability, he took to the streets, sleeping in the park or the backyards of friends until he finally reached rock bottom. Then he asked his mother for help to find a safe place to stay and a long-term solution to his challenges.
“Instead of trying to do it all by myself, I was looking for people who are educated in the ways of helping somebody like me,” he says. And he found the compassion and guidance he was seeking here at Dallas LIFE.
“I needed more than the life I was living.”
“I wanted to reconnect with my spiritual life,” Dustin says, “and they’re teaching me how to pray and meditate on the Lord.” Through our Homeless No More program and classes on problem solving, anger management and job readiness, he’s rebuilding his stability and independence. And his counselors are helping him heal emotionally and overcome his debilitating depression.
Most importantly, he’s learning to give his burdens to the Lord. “It’s freeing me up to live a life that’s more free of worry and guilt,” he says.
When he leaves our care he hopes to get a good job, a home of his own and return to playing music – he’s proficient with several instruments. “It calms me down and brings me peace and I enjoy playing for others too.”
Dustin’s heart is overflowing with gratitude this Thanksgiving because YOUR loving support gave him the confidence and support to rebuild his life. “I’m a much more competent individual than the person I was when I came here.”
Dustin’s story appears in the Fall 2022 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Leray is so grateful
You have given him new life!
Leray had a dream that he had nurtured since childhood. But after a tragic accident, he knew he never could achieve his life-long goal. Disheartened and bitter, he found himself drifting, with no sense of direction, and adopting destructive habits including alcohol and drug use.
As his life slowly spiraled downhill, he was in and out of jail and couldn’t hold a job. “I was unemployed for a good amount of time due to laziness and my criminal record,” he says.
Eventually he found himself homeless, staying with anyone who agreed to take him in. When he finally ran out of options – and his family could no longer help him – he came to Dallas LIFE.
“I just wanted shelter, really,” he says. But soon, through our Homeless No More Program, he found we offered so much more.
“They have really started to motivate me, encouraging me… they’re the light at my feet in the darkness.”
With compassionate counseling and guidance, Leray identified unresolved issues in his life and began to heal emotionally. Through his workforce development task as a security monitor in our shelter, he regained a sense of direction and purpose.
As he opened his mind to new possibilities, he rekindled a passion for cooking, which replaced his shattered childhood dream. Now he hopes to go to culinary school, receive mentoring and tutelage from a chef, and one day have his own food truck.
“Dallas LIFE has given me a chance to take a look at myself, and I’ve found I have more positives than negatives,” he says. “I’m really going to try to make something of myself.”
Leray is grateful for the kindness and compassion of loving neighbors like you who’ve given him peace and hope for the future. “Dallas LIFE has shown me that I’m worth something. I have something to provide in this life and to the world.”
Leray’s story appears in the Summer 2022 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Steven is celebrating being Homeless No More this Easter!
Thank you for touching his life with hope.
“I couldn’t stand to live that way any longer…”
Steven’s father was a violent man, abusing his son for years. “It made me believe I wasn’t good enough and never would be, that I had no value.”
But Steven loved music, and when he was 16, he dropped out of school and went on the road with a band. He was far from his father’s abuse now, yet his emotional wounds remained, and before long, he was numbing his pain with drugs and alcohol.
“Everything went downhill from there,” he says. “Hate and resentment built up over the years and affected every aspect of my life. I left behind a lot of wreckage and wound up living on the streets.”
After 43 years of chaos, Steven reached his breaking point. “I couldn’t stand to live that way any longer, so I attempted to take my life.”
But God had other plans. Steven survived and that miracle was the catalyst that led him to seek help. He entered our Homeless No More Program, where he recommitted his life to the Lord.
“I’d given my life to Christ as a child, but I’d walked away,” Steven says. “Now, chapel services, prayer and reading the Word have made me want to follow God the rest of my life.”
Steven’s flourishing faith and Christian counseling have helped heal his childhood wounds. “The key was forgiveness. I prayed and the burdens lifted off me.
“Now, I know I have value.”
Steven is now on our staff, working as a part-time kitchen supervisor. He plans to save money, and after graduation, get his own place and spend his days ministering to the lost through his testimony and music. “Whatever God has in store for me will bring Him honor and glory,” he says.
Your generous support has filled Steven’s life with love, encouragement, and most of all, hope this Easter season. “I’ve buried my old life and I’m starting fresh, leading a godly life. Dallas LIFE has made me the man God always wanted me to be.”
Steven’s story appears in the Easter 2022 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Thanks to you…
Brian has been given a life-changing gift this Christmas.
“I’m a changed person.”
Brian was huddled in his car, wondering how his life had come to this. He had no home. No job. No sense of how long he had been existing like this.
“I was living inside my car… I went days or even a week without a shower. People look at you like, ‘Wow, you smell bad.’ That was not a good feeling.”
Years before, Brian had a good job and a stable life. But then his drinking got out of control, and he lost everything.
“I started drinking heavily after my grandmother passed. It got worse and worse… my whole family saw my attitude and behavior change.”
The turning point came when Brian finally listened to a friend who told him he was hanging out with a bad crowd and needed to change. That’s when Brian came to Dallas LIFE to get the help he needed to overcome addiction and rebuild his life on solid ground.
“When I first arrived here, I found structure and started growing spiritually again,” he says.
“When I used to look in the mirror, all I saw was a drunk. Now I see myself. It’s not about the past… it’s about what you want in your future.”
Brian entered our Homeless No More Program and found strength by surrendering his life to God.
“The classes taught me things I had forgotten, like you can’t put your faith in man… you have to put your faith in God. I have a great mentor, and he helped me with things I didn’t think I would ever recover from.”
Today, Brian is celebrating two years of sobriety! He graduated from our program and serves on staff at Dallas LIFE as a Security Supervisor.
He is excited to spend another Christmas with the family he has found here. “They cook a good meal, and we have games and laughter. Just camaraderie with our whole group because our stories are not all the same, but we all changed our lives here at Dallas LIFE.”
It’s going to be a Christmas filled with joy for Brian – and he is so grateful to you for this wonderful gift of being Homeless No More. “I put my faith in God, and I’ve grown in a lot of ways. Now I’m in a better place – mentally and physically.”
Brian’s story appears in the Holiday 2021 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Grateful through it all:
Sarah is especially thankful for YOU!
Your compassion & support change lives.
“God loves me no matter what.”
Sarah was in an abusive relationship – just one of a string of bad relationships. But when he left her and evicted her from their home, she felt lost and alone.
“I lost my mother in 2004, and then my dad. My mom’s mom the next year and my dad’s mom the following year. That was literally all the family I had. So, when he abandoned me, I was scared.”
Sarah had already lost custody of her three children and had trouble keeping a job. She stopped using drugs a few years before and didn’t want to fall back into addiction or end up homeless on the streets. That’s when she found the courage to come to Dallas LIFE.
“They bring you in and it’s like you’re coming into God’s house… you’re part of the family. I never thought I was worthy enough to feel like this.”
When Sarah first got here, she was angry… at God, herself and life in general. But the classes helped her recognize past behaviors and learn healthier ways to cope with her pain. She also recommitted her life to the Lord and found strength in the surrender.
“They taught me patience… and of course, God has helped me with that. I pray every day that His patience will be my patience. His understanding, my understanding.”
Sarah graduated from our program and is still with us as a resident staff worker – helping out with security while she looks for a job and a place to live. She sees her kids as often as possible and is sharing her faith by teaching them about Jesus and the Bible.
As Sarah celebrates this Thanksgiving, she feels incredibly thankful for your compassion and support – and how it’s given her a fresh start in life. “Now I see myself as worthy and lovable… Dallas LIFE made that possible. This is my family.
Sarah’s story appears in the Fall 2021 edition of The Heart of Texas. Click here to download.
Meet Johnny: Addiction to Fairytale
“Everything I lost I got back, everything and more.”
Johnny and his wife hit hard times and found themselves at Dallas LIFE after drugs and other things made paying bills difficult. “We were looking for a way to turn our life around. Coming in here and getting to be a part of this program spiritually and to be able to get close to the Lord was really the defining moment for me.”
Classes, teacher and mentors showed him that is was alright to have a past to overcome. “The best thing is the people who come to understand what I was going through. I thought I was the only one having such a rough time in life but I heard others struggled too and that made me more comfortable and realize that I can overcome my issues and so I have.”
Johnny was able to step away from his outside problems and really look at the kind of man he wanted to be. “Everything I was doing wrong I have gotten away from. They sheltered me and then I got a job and got to become a supervisor and that experience really put me on a different path.”
Johnny and his wife are employed at Dallas LIFE and after graduating they moved into their own home with their children now having been reunited to them. The ability to work at Dallas LIFE has allowed Johnny to see things in a new light. “I never really studied the Bible the way I was supposed to. Before anything Jesus was a servant and if he can serve, I can too.”
After accomplishing so much in his time at Dallas LIFE, Johnny gives the credit to God and his time in the program. “Our story is really like a fairytale. Everything that could happen right or us has happened to us since we have been here. Dallas LIFE changed my life, this place has helped me out so much.”
Johnny was the featured speaker at his Dallas LIFE graduation and after sharing his story he encouraged others to join the program and work hard at it. He knows the value of what it has given him and his family. “Everything we lost we got back, everything and much more.”
Meet Derwin & Frances: Repo to Restored
“There should be a Dallas Life everywhere.”
What started out as a few leaky pipes resulted in Derwin and his wife, Frances, losing their house and most everything they owned. “After paying for repairs and water bills costing over $800 a month, she lost her job and then I lost mine,” Derwin explains. “We quickly went through our savings and before we knew it, two cars disappeared from the driveway.”
Repo.” Frances whispers.
After living in hotel rooms with their three kids, ages 5, 8, and 16, the couple turned to Dallas LIFE. “I heard about it from a woman at church.” Frances recalls. “She said it was a good place for children and families.” “We really believe that when we came here, it was God controlling our steps,” Derwin adds.
After arriving at Dallas LIFE, both Derwin and Frances earned jobs at the shelter and their children also adjusted incredibly well. “They fell right into it!” Derwin laughs. “There was one thing that really helped the transition and that was putting a name to our family. We took our last name, and put “TEAM” in front of it. No matter what we do or where we go, we do it together, as a team. And they love that closeness.” With the help and support of Dallas LIFE, all three of their children got involved in after school activities and their oldest son began his first job. He’s caught on super quickly in his training. “They told him that training for the job usually takes about 13 weeks. For him, they said it would only take three weeks.” Derwin beams. Both Derwin and Frances graduated from the Homeless No More Recovery Program. When asked to name their favorite program class, neither of them could name one. Instead, they named five. “They’re not preaching at you. They’re giving you life lessons, things that are going to help you on your walk with God.” Derwin explains.
Frances nods before adding, “I know that there’s a purpose to the program. It helped me to see a lot of things that I didn’t see before, and helped me grow in ways that I didn’t think I needed to.”
One thing that both Derwin and Frances made perfectly clear is that they will not keep their new found success—and faith—to themselves.
When we were established in a home we used to say we need to go give back and volunteer. We need to take our kids and show them how the less fortunate live. We never did. Now both agree that we will give back to Dallas LIFE,” Derwin states. “God uses us as seeds. He blesses us with certain things, but those things are meant to bless someone else with, not for us to hold onto. Our cup is already overflowing.”
Derwin then raises a hand. “I gotta say one more thing. There should be a Dallas LIFE everywhere.” How great that would be!
Since graduating the Gooden family has stayed independent, they have housing for their family and jobs. They are also very involved in their local church and Derwin helps lead an evangelism ministry. They both look back and see Dallas LIFE as the change they needed and they are glad their lives will never be the same again.
Meet Tiffany: From Worry to Peace…
“Every day I wake up feeling light.”
The first thing you notice about Tiffany is her contagious smile. Her personality seems to bubble over as she excitedly explains her journey before, during and after her time at Dallas LIFE.
“Over the years, my back pain worsened resulting in me not being able to work.” Tiffany explained that a family member researched online, found Dallas LIFE and suggested Tiffany explore her options. After resisting at first, Tiffany details a series of events that unfolded which ultimately pointed her to Dallas LIFE.
When asked what her biggest lesson was that she learned, she didn’t hesitate before saying, “Be still and let God’s timing work perfectly. I found myself trying to get to the bottom of everything all the time, and that is when I would lose my peace.”
On the 90th day of the program, Tiffany accepted a part-time job in the workforce development program at Dallas LIFE. In between this time and graduation, Tiffany said, “Whenever there were hiccups or bumps that would have normally sent me into a panic, I now had a much more peaceful and trusting attitude in the Lord.” An attitude she says is a product of the programs offered here.
“Every day, I wake up feeling light, without the weight of the world, which is something I have never felt before. I completely attribute this to my experience here. I was allowed to get where I needed to be on my time, well, on God’s time for me.”
“People considering Dallas LIFE should know that they are not alone.” Furthermore, she said something that makes this program so special is the lack of stereotyping and inclusion of all people. After graduating early, Tiffany found an apartment in her dream location. She also enrolled in college and graduated with two degrees. Her current job allows her to utilize both of her degrees. She is anticipating a purchase of a vehicle soon. Tiffany wants to remind people going through hardships to not lose faith in themselves or the Lord. “The harder the situation, the greater the reward.”
Meet Allison: A Graduate & A Mom!
“I found God, patience & hope.”
“I did not want to be at Dallas LIFE.”
Allison had fallen on hard times after losing her job and staying as long as possible with family and friends. She needed another option for herself and her son. Her attempts to start fresh just were not working and she decided to try a homeless shelter. The first place she tried wasn’t working out or giving her the ability to search for a job and better herself. Her mother heard about Dallas LIFE and Allison decided to give it a try.
Allison recalls how arriving at Dallas LIFE was a real challenge, “When we first got here, it was really difficult. Being homeless was something new, I was angry and hurt.” Allison joined the program because she had no other option for herself and her son. She began to take the classes and kept pushing through her pain as she got a lot of encouragement from the staff and her program director. “I would get words of encouragement and I wouldn’t give up.” Allison remembers through tears the caring words and prayers of the staff that got her through.
Once Allison really decided to apply what she was learning to her life and she began to listen and learn, her heart began to change. “I started noticing a change in myself, I was smiling more too.” Getting over her depression and anger led her to keep moving on through everything, including the birth of her second child. “I was able to get over different obstacles,” Allison says proudly, “the fact I was able to graduate with two kids is a big accomplishment.”
Allison graduated the Homeless No More Program with her 3 year old son and newborn baby by her side. Allison thinks back to her life change experience, “Before I came here I had a distance between myself and God and the classes helped bring me closer to God and build that relationship.” Allison got a job during the program and was able to start working towards the future of her family.
Psalm 46:10 means a great deal to Allison “Be still and know that I am God.” She fondly remembers this verse helping her get through the program. “If someone wants to change their life they need to focus and take in what the program has to teach them. Just try because it might not be something you want to do and it’s scary but go for it, you will appreciate it.”
Meet Tommi: Tears to Triumph
“I now have a family again.”
With her voice shaking and tears streaming down her cheeks, Tommie emotionally shares her account of what lead her to Dallas Life and how her life was changed by the experience.
“I was out of luck with no more options left.” She realized her only choice was to find help for herself. “All the bridges I had, I burnt them at both ends two or three times.”, she explains.
Tommie came to Dallas Life after hearing about if from a group of friends she knew. The first three nights at the shelter were difficult for her. She admits to having feelings of being alone with no one to talk with and wanting to be anywhere but at a shelter.
Although her transition was difficult at first, Tommie decided she would give herself six weeks. The six weeks became six months and then a year she is still a part of the Dallas Life family.
Over time Tommie discovered that her decision to stay would truly change her life and her outlook on life. When speaking on the changes she sees in her life she states, “I really didn’t care about anyone but myself then… and I started changing, went to counseling and went to church here, and started talking to other people…and their troubles was worse than mine…which I thought mine was terrible, but as it come it wasn’t.”
Tommie’s sister and son have also noticed the changes and realized that she has worked hard to become a better person. Tommie is a familiar face in the Dallas Life C-Store. For anyone in need of help she is willing to lend a hand. She is also willing to help anyone coming through the doors of Dallas Life find the people and the program they need to make positive changes during difficult times. Tommie graduated the program and is ready for her new future to start!
Omar: Finding His Potential
“I was changed, immediately.”
Say “good morning” to Omar and prepare to be encouraged – or perhaps even have your entire day turned around.
Omar has a special gift of joy, which could have been snuffed out when his own world fell apart, but didn’t.
He lost his job, which was terrible enough. But Omar had some health issues that needed to be addressed, so losing his benefits was a second wave of disaster. “It threw me into having to consider going to a shelter,” he reflects, “and I have to admit, the stigma of that was almost too much to handle.”
When Omar found out about Dallas LIFE – that it had a program to help with life issues, a job search and finding housing, PLUS a medical clinic, he knew that God was about to do big things in his life. “He gave me provision, perspective, and purpose through the Homeless No More program. I was changed, immediately.” He was loved, immediately, as well, and became a constant encouragement to his classmates and the staff at Dallas LIFE.
Omar graduated from the Homeless No More program – with much celebration from his fellow graduates and program directors! He is now on staff as the manager of the Dallas LIFE Convenience store.
“I have a college degree, but the Homeless No More program is so much more valuable to me,” Omar emphasizes, with his infectious joy. “Dallas LIFE is where I found what my true potential really is.”
Meet LaShawnda: It Can Happen to Anyone…
“I never thought in a million years this would happen to me.”
LaShawnda and her husband had good jobs – she at a major retailer and he at a worldwide manufacturing company. They lived along with their one-year old in a nice house, and often entertained friends. There was no warning that life was about to blindside them, and when it did, they found themselves without a support system.
“First, I lost my job,” LaShawnda explained. “I thought we’d be OK while I looked for a new one, but then my husband lost his job. It was surreal.” Though they both diligently looked for work, within a few months, they lost their savings, their car – and ultimately, their home.
With no family in the Metroplex and no money to travel to their hometown in New York, there were few options. For LaShawnda, a homeless shelter was totally out of the question. Friends opened their home, and LaShawnda’s struggling family moved in with them. It was not very long before the friends faced eviction. Anger, resentment, and depression began to take deep root in LaShawnda’s life. Much had happened in such a short period of time, and none of it had been good.
Her sister called to tell her of a homeless shelter that looked like the perfect place for LaShawnda’s family. Living out of state, she had discovered it online. It was Dallas LIFE. Though she was still strongly against going to a homeless shelter, LaShawnda called Dallas LIFE. They were warmly welcomed. LaShawnda enrolled in the 10-month Homeless No More program. And – a new baby was on the way.
LaShawnda graduated from the Homeless No More program. She assists new women when they come to Dallas LIFE and understands the fear they feel. She assures them they are in the best place to make a fresh start. Her anger, resentment and depression have dissolved into peace and hope. And her new baby girl has safely arrived. “I’m not the same person,” LaShawnda beams. “I wouldn’t trade my time at Dallas LIFE for anything. It gave me a safe place to recover spiritually, physically and emotionally. I will definitely give back.”