What better gift for a mother who is homeless, than knowing she is doing all she can, and succeeding, at getting her child out of homelessness.

It is a rare and splendid thing for a person to receive, on consecutive days, an AA degree and an award for Employee of the Month. Made only more rare and splendid, if that person is a single mother with a four year old son, and living in a homeless shelter.

Shanesha and her son have been living with us in the Ascencia emergency shelter since January- after she found herself, for the second time in her life, with no where to go and no one to rely on.

Shanesha grew up in Foster Care, so age 18 when she exited the program, she instantly learned to be the independent and strong woman that she is today. As she says, [she] “kept herself uplifted and determined”. However, despite being employed since the day she exited foster care, last January, Shanesha came to Ascencia seeking help when she was unable to find housing for herself and her son.

When they entered the shelter, Shanesha was already well on her way to an Associate of Arts degree in behavioral science at Pasadena City College. Along with her full time studies, determined to build a better life for herself and her son, Shanesha was also working part-time in the PCC Computer Lab.

Shanesha after the graduation ceremony
Shanesha after the graduation ceremony

Last Thursday, Shanesha was awarded Employee of the Month; last Friday Shanesha was awarded her AA degree.

Pride in her achievement has spilled over. Always positive and with a ‘can do’ attitude, it’s no wonder most of our 40+ shelter residents have been rooting for Shanesha.

A fellow resident purchased a very large congratulations card and placed it on a table where other residents signed and wrote about their appreciation for her efforts. It is a mark of the positive attitude she carries in the shelter, that the card –despite it’s size- was filled up rapidly. A number of our residents even attended Shanesha’s award ceremony.

Soon, Shanesha and her young son will be moving into an apartment here is Glendale as part of Ascencia’s Scattered Site/ Transitional Housing Program. They will live on their own, with subsidized rent, while Shanesha continues to earn and save for a place of their own.

As well as continuing with work, Shanesha will also continue in her education. She is already enrolled at Cal State- Dominguez Hills and planning for her bachelor’s degree.

Congratulations, Shanesha! You’ve made us all very proud.

To Shanesha and all the moms out there working hard to provide for their children, we wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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