Sherita is the mother of a five-year-old girl, Joanna. For eight years before Joeanna was born, Sherita worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant; however, during the last few months of her pregnancy, Sherita was required to stop working. Unfortunately, she has had trouble finding work since then.
As a baby, Joeanna was diagnosed with developmental delays and failure-to-thrive. Despite her best efforts, it was difficult for Sherita to provide all the care her daughter needed. Often, Sherita has difficulty making ends meet and she struggles to buy the kind of food Joeanna needs and wants. However, Sherita and her husband earn too much for the family to qualify for SNAP and other assistance programs.
While times are hard, Sherita has made many changes since joining Witnesses. She now works as a case worker for Salvation Army and is collaborating with a writer to tell her story through a book and a screenplay. She has also played a key role in implementing the Sanctuary Model in the Center’s work with the community by leading SELF groups at St. Christopher’s hospital for children, and she has completed several trauma training programs.
Raising a child with failure-to-thrive is stressful. Sherita has found encouragement by talking to other mothers in Witnesses to Hunger. She says, “Sometimes you think you’re the only one going through stuff – being hungry, being broke, being unemployed – but a lot of people out here are suffering, and you have to look for that light at the end of the tunnel – for your kids, and also for yourself. And you never know when someone might come into your life and help you.”
Sherita reflects on how her life has changed in the past five years, since joining Witnesses:
“When I first joined Witnesses I was unemployed, angry, on drugs, and had recently been told that my daughter had failure to thrive. At that point, she needed to be in a special education program because of her developmental delays. Now she is in a normal kindergarten class, with regular kids!
“I joined Witnesses because it gave me a voice and a platform from which I could tell my story. Going to SELF groups, and also helping run these groups, has changed my life. These groups made me confront a lot of demons from my past and deal with the real reasons that I was doing drugs and drinking. Going to SELF groups also made me realize the effects of multigenerational trauma and of untreated PTSD.
“My whole outlook on life has changed and I see a better future for myself and my family, thanks to being a part of the Witnesses to Hunger program.”