We all need a helping hand now and then. And you never know exactly what another person might be going through.
For LaShenda Williams, she just needed an opportunity.
She was going through a hard time – she was jobless, homeless, and living in her car.
She frequently parked her car at the local Kroger grocery store, and sometimes took shelter inside.
She recalls always being welcomed in by staff.
Over time LaShenda got to know many of the employees more personally, and happened to meet the location’s hiring manager one day.
Jackie Vandal could see that LaShenda was struggling, but had no idea just how bad her situation was.
Jackie encouraged LaShenda to attend the upcoming job fair.
She felt like she had nothing to lose, so she went. And as soon as she sat down, they told her she was hired. She couldn’t believe it.
“I said, ‘I’m what? I’m what?’ and they said ‘you’re hired’. And I cried and I cried.”
It had been so long since she’d heard those words. And those tears of joy came because she knew this job was the opportunity she needed to turn her life around.
In 2018, more than half a million homeless people were recorded across the United States, according to White House statistics. With COVID-19 causing unemployment to skyrocket across the country (and the rest of the world), the number of homeless people in the population is in danger of spiking.
Kroger can’t hire everybody, but if other businesses can be inspired to provide opportunities to those down on their luck,
it could make the world a better place.
One of her colleagues, Verlenteez Williams took a strong liking to LaShenda, and wanted to help her get set up with necessities for her new apartment. But he couldn’t do it alone.
He made a call out to the community via Facebook, hoping to get a few second-hand necessities.
The post received an overwhelming response. Next thing she knew – her entire apartment was furnished! And it was all brought together by her community.
She was interviewed by the local news station, and the video went viral. People all around the world were touched by her story.
And many are praising Kroger (and the welcoming team in East Nashville, specifically) as an example for other businesses. I couldn’t agree more!
Many wanted to do what they could to help as well. So a donation page was started on Facebook where people could help contribute to getting her back on her feet.
A paycheque is one thing, but getting back on your feet is more than that.
She was so positive and brought such a warm smile with her to work every day, she was a perfect fit for customer service! She got to know the frequent shoppers and soon enough, everyone in the East Nashville community knew her name.
“Family” isn’t reserved just for blood relatives. It’s so much more than that – it’s the people you surround yourself with who love and care for you. And LaShenda found that when she least expected it, and needed it most.
“When I was hungry, they fed me. When I needed a pair of gloves, they gave them to me. These people that I work with are my family.” – LaShenda Williams
Watch the video below for LaShenda’s full reaction to the support she received from her community.
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