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LaTonya’s Story: When unexpected illness leads to homelessness…

Story and Photo by Branden Harvey

LaTonya was 36 when she found herself homeless for the first time. “From the age of 17 all the way to 36, I’d always had my own home. I always had a place to open my doors for others.” She was working a new job and noticed she was rapidly losing weight. At first she assumed she was just burning more calories at this new job. But after a doctor visit she learned that her thyroid wasn’t functioning correctly & was having an impact on her heart. This bad news spiraled as her sickness stopped her from being able to work — and pay rent and medical bills. She and her teenage son found themselves homeless.

She tried to find someone who would open their doors for her. She was turned down by women’s shelters because her son was too old, & even more heartbreaking, she was turned down by family. One day she walked to the Salvation Army & shared her story in the hopes they could take her. They said yes. The next night she had somewhere to stay. I asked her what it felt like in the midst of all of this. And honestly, we had this real heart to heart moment when she told me about the overwhelming feeling of depression she experienced. She had never battled depression before, but losing her home in her mid-30’s while trying to provide for her boy terrifyingly triggered an overwhelming despair.

She said that moving into the Salvation Army felt like coming up for air again — like she could finally see through the fog. It’s beautiful because all she needed was a little bit of stability. Since she moved into the Salvation Army, she’s been able to start seeing a counselor regularly, has a job that allows her to pay rent, buy groceries, and care for her son — and “to feel normal again.” #storyportrait

This is part of a 3-part series with my partners @salvationarmyus. I’ve grown up hearing about the impactful work they do, but have never experienced it first-hand. I wanted to do this storytelling project to get to know the people who are directly impacted and share their stories w/ others around the holidays. I hope you enjoy.
#FightForGood #SalvationArmyPartner

 

View more of Brandon’s work at https://www.instagram.com/brandenharvey/

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