Shawnna’s Story

"Joy House got me in touch with God and Jesus again. They gave me hope, and a chance to reevaluate."

Tragedy, chaos and homelessness followed Shawnna for much of her life. Disappointment and heartache were all too familiar.

It didn’t start out that way. “I had the best mom ever,” she says. “Homemade meals, she protected me, every day she said she loved me, she was awesome.”

But Shawnna’s self esteem suffered as she struggled with learning disabilities at school. Despite her mother’s protection and encouragement, Shawnna’s life began to stray. In high school, she was sexually assaulted. Then, at 22, she gave birth to her son, Jaydin. Shortly after, Shawnna’s precious mother was diagnosed with cancer.

To cope with single motherhood, working and caring for her dying mother, Shawnna began taking pain pills. Sadly, things went from bad to worse when her mother passed away. Devastated, lost and facing homelessness, Shawnna started using heroin—wrecking not only her health, but her hope.

“Between my addiction and depression, my body got weak. I caught pneumonia,” Shawnna says. “I was basically dying. And I was okay with that, I really was.”

Though she recovered, another gut-wrenching loss followed. Her once-absent father died of an overdose just as she was rebuilding a relationship with him.

After another rocky living situation fell apart, Shawnna needed help. Overwhelmed with grief and stress, and on the verge of homelessness again, she turned to Joy House, where she found stability for herself and 9-year-old Jaydin—and a new path for her life. “Joy House got me in touch with God and Jesus again. They gave me hope, and a chance to reevaluate,” Shawnna says.

Soon, they will move to new housing, forever changed by Joy House and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. “I am so grateful for all the donors who gave me this second chance when I needed it most. And to Joy House, for showing me the love of Jesus and His forgiveness and giving me the chance to get my life back on track.”