Shaquonna’s Story

"Joy House showed me that someone cares. They showed me I’m worth being loved."

When Shaquonna came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, she was crying out for help. In some ways, she’d been crying for help her whole life. It was in Joy House, our shelter for women and children, that she finally found a loving community eager to listen—and she was determined to use the help she received here to turn her life around. Not just for herself, but for her sons.

“When I got here, I was so lost and depressed, and I couldn’t see a way out,” she says. “But I had to find a way. I wanted my two boys to see that, yeah, life is hard sometimes, but their mom made it. And I want them to see that when life gets hard for them, they can make it, too.”

As a child, Shaquonna endured years of emotional and physical abuse. Her family often struggled with homelessness, bouncing from house to house, even living in abandoned homes when they had to.

When she turned 13, however, the abuse turned so severe that Child Protective Services placed her in foster care. Feeling hurt and angry, she rebelled.

“I figured, if my own family didn’t love me, nobody loved me,” she says. “No one cared, so I started running away. I wasn’t going to listen to anyone.”

She had her first son at 18 and her second when she was 21. But the men she dated abused her, too. She started to fall into a crippling depression and even suffered a nervous breakdown. Eventually, she lost her job and her home.

“I was becoming my mom,” she says. “And I couldn’t do that to my boys. I needed help, so I finally came to Joy House. Joy House showed me that someone cares. They showed me I’m worth being loved. They supported me, helped me with my kids and helped me get close to God. They’re showing me how to be the kind of mom I long to be.”

“I want the donors to know that I’m so grateful for their support when I needed it most. I don’t know where I’d be without Joy House!”