“Life truly is beautiful!”
Homeless and alone, single mom Vanessa Howard wondered if life would ever get better. Then, thanks to the generosity of a stranger, it did. So today, she’s paying that kindness forward . . . by helping other women feel beautiful and confident!
Pulling the thin blankets up to her daughters’ chins, Vanessa Howard settled into the dark of the homeless shelter.
Like most parents, Vanessa wanted more for her children. But from the time she was a little girl, her own life had been filled with struggle and heartache. Vanessa had to move in with her grandmother when her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. Then, when she was only a teenager, she got pregnant.
Her boyfriend vowed to build a life with her, but at barely 20, Vanessa found herself a single mom of three. Having also lost her grandma, she felt alone and terrified— and she had only $1.75 to her name.
She couldn’t stay with her girls on the streets. So they had come here. And now, the Tampa mom quietly sobbed: Please, let things get better . . .
Reaching for dreams Over
the next few years, as they bounced from shelter to shelter, Vanessa would take whatever job she could to support herself and her girls, frequently working in hair salons.
Honestly, though, Vanessa loved it there: chatting with the clients, seeing the smiles when stylists spun their chairs around so the women could glimpse their transformation.
Maybe someday I can become a hairdresser. Maybe someday I can have a salon, she even began to dream.
But that dream seemed unreachable. Vanessa was barely getting by. One night, like so many in the shelter, tears spilled down her cheeks. Please, God, if you are real, bless me and my children with a safe place to stay, she implored.
The next morning, Vanessa felt . . . different. Is this hope? she wondered. It had been so long. Still, when she saw an ad for an apartment in a nice neighborhood, she decided to go check it out.
Vanessa wasn’t sure what had compelled her, since she didn’t even have the money for a deposit. But, she went to meet the landlord.
Smiling, he handed Vanessa an application.
“I know I don’t know you, but I feel like you need a chance and should have this place,” he said. And the next day, he called to announce, “The apartment is yours!”
“Thank you!” Vanessa cried, overwhelmed with gratitude for her prayer having been answered. And she vowed that someday she would pay his kindness forward.
As months became years,
Forour anniversary, my husband and I went out to a nice restaurant with some friends. As we were looking at our menus, I glanced up and asked, “Is something burning?” That’s when I noticed that my menu had caught fire from the candle on the table! We quickly put it out, and when the waitress came back, she pretended not to notice the charred corner of the menu. Boy, was my face red! — C.G., Stone Mountain, GA