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Rockdale Emergency Relief and United Way help the homeless find employment
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As a teen, Yulonda moved to the Atlanta area from Michigan to live with an aunt, leaving behind her mother. But then something went horribly wrong. Yulonda's single mom became a drug addict which led into a downward spiral toward prostitution. Yulanda recalled learning that her mother was missing; her body was found a few weeks later, a victim of foul play. To this day, the murder has never been solved.

Yulonda struggled to explain her mother's death to her own children. How could someone who seemed to have everything suddenly lose it all? To make sense of this killing, and to honor her mother's life, Yulonda decided to help women escape drug addiction and prostitution. After a while Yulanda realized that she was trying to right her mother's wrong. Instead, Yulanda needed to live for herself. Today, she strives to work with single moms who are experiencing homelessness. She wants to break the cycle of being a single mother.

Yulonda encountered homelessness because of some bad mishaps, including lay-offs. There was not one catastrophic event that she could blame. The economy and life just seemed to pile on layer upon layer. Even though she tried not to show concern in front of her children, she worried about their welfare as she struggled to find a place for them to stay week after week.

Yulonda remembers sleeping in her car. Although she parked the car outside a police officer's home in order to feel safer, it was cold outside, and she struggled to keep herself and the kids warm. Mostly, she was scared.

Yulonda, a 35 year old single mother, referred to her period of homelessness as her "transition time." During that time, she worried that social services might try to take her two young children away because she had seen it happen to other families. Yulonda felt much more challenged by her homelessness because she had two young children depending on her to take care of them. Fortunately, her family was kept intact, and she was able to love, nurture, provide for and draw strength from her children. She explained that throughout her "transition time," she took her children to a small congregation church because it was a constant source of faith and stability for them all.

Today, thanks to the support of United Way and Rockdale Emergency Relief, Yulonda and her children are living in a house with a yard where her kids to play. Furthermore, the kids are enrolled in Live Oaks Elementary School and are making excellent grades. When Yulonda speaks proudly of her children, her smile is mixed with grateful tears. Today, she is employed and lives with her children in a suburban home. Yulanda is strong, brave, loving, faithful and hopeful.

This story was written by Celebrating Success volunteer Katherine Carey. For more information about the Celebrating Success program, contact Protip Biswas at 404.527.7237 or