Wanda’s Story

Wanda’s Story
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(Note: This story was produced by AboutFace CLT, an ongoing photographic and storytelling project that gives voice to the voiceless in our community. Learn more, AboutFaceCLT.)


I was on the street. Street homeless for two years and two months. 

The biggest thing when you’re on the streets is you just want people to say hello to you. It’s a very lonely life. More than giving you money, or giving you something to eat, you just want somebody to say hello. To speak to you.

I had worked. I bought a trailer. It was a used trailer, but it was mine. It was paid for. I put it on 9 acres of land that my mama had given me. And she passed away and everything went to my dad, who was still living and they were still married. And he had my son take me to court and take everything. He changed the deed and everything to my sons name and they took me to court and in ten minutes I lost everything, my trailer that I worked for and the 9 acres of land my mama had left me.

I had an amazing mom, she was really good and I was really blessed to have her, but my dad’s just always, even as a child, he was just really hateful to me and things like that. It just is what it is, you know?

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This happened in Burlington, North Carolina, so I went to that shelter for about three weeks and then I got exit-ed. People don’t realize you can’t stay in a shelter but for so long, it’s not housing, and so I had to leave and I found a ride to take me to Chapel Hill and I stayed in a shelter there for about three weeks and I was exit-ed and I just stayed on the street.

I liked Chapel Hill. I felt safe. I loved the police officers there and they knew that I was homeless and they would… I had one to buy me a blanket one night when it was really cold and to me that was amazing. I had just never met police officers like that. And so I was just… I felt really safe and got to know some of the students there and a lot of the people there and I felt like Franklin Street basically was my home. I slept on benches and I’ve slept on concrete on the ground you know, in Carrboro North Carolina and the last place I stayed up there was in Durham, and I had a little tent out in the woods.

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I wouldn’t advise that for any female, to live in the woods in a tent. I had to stay in that tent maybe two months, and then I just… the last night I was there it rained really hard and I woke up and I was in water about a foot deep, you know, and just…and I just prayed then I said “God, just get me out of this”, you know. And I went up the street to panhandle and these guys that I had seen come by on Wednesdays giving out these flyers and stuff, you know and looking for people to help, they had never been by on a Saturday, you know, and that was amazing they came by that Saturday, you know, after I had that prayer “Just please get me out of here.” It was very sincere and very humbling. They came and gave me a ride down here to Charlotte and then I went to detox.

I don’t know if I should say too much about this or not, but I’m a recovering alcoholic and I went to detox and then I stayed on the streets of Charlotte maybe two weeks and I got assaulted pretty bad. And I went to the hospital. And then I just came by the Salvation Army on like a fluke and walked up to ‘em and when they told me that they were going to take me in and I had a place to stay I just… I couldn’t believe it.

And I slept on the floor in the cafeteria and it was just a step up for me, you know, everybody else was complaining about the kids and everything and, and I just embraced it. It was just… it was just wonderful for me. And then a week later they give me a pillow, and I had forgotten that we sleep with pillows. Because I was just, I guess I was getting used to being homeless, you know? It had slipped my mind that we slept with pillows. It was pretty amazing.

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And I went to AA meetings. I went to church. Things like that, you know, and at night when everybody else would go to sleep and the streets were empty I’d go and pick up trash. And that was my way of being a part of the community was just to pick up trash.

I’m just really glad I’m sober. I’m just really happy about that. I get more spiritual. I get closer to God. And when I’m drinking, you kinda…it’s not that I didn’t believe in God but when you take alcohol and put it in your body it brings you kinda’ away from God, so…

I just feel like God… things happen the way they’re supposed to and becoming homeless…. I saw SO many blessings. So many things happened out there and it ended up being honestly the happiest time of my life, and that was when I was on the street and I saw miracles, you know, almost daily. And the chance to help others. You know even though I had nothing there was always some way to help somebody else. I don’t ever want to forget what it was like for me to be out there and the miracles that have happened in my life.

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