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Shelter Stories: Toni's Return To The Light

Toniette and her family moved to Oklahoma and were kicked out of their living situation. They moved around and stayed with friends and lived in hotels, much like many homeless families. “We had to put our bank in the hole for the month’s rent at the hotel.” Her family struggled with the high cost of poverty. They had to buy expensive food from gas stations to get by without a vehicle. “We were struggling in eating and living.”

A concerned resident near the hotel saw their struggle and started the process of finding placement for their family. After two months, Mission on Wheels succeeded in getting Toni and her family into Family Promise. Mission on Wheels paid for all their entry needs, including a ride from Altus to Family Promise of Lawton.

But Toni’s struggle wasn’t over. While in Family Promise’s program, Toni’s husband, who Is wheelchair bound, continued to spend all the family’s money. Toniette and her teen daughter provided all his care, which was difficult as Toni’s sight had been deteriorating for a few years. Even though she provided all his care, Toni’s spouse treated her and her daughter very poorly.

Eventually, due to the safe space provided by Family Promise, Toni and her spouse split, and he moved into his own place, and things improved for her daughter and herself. “My daughter actually has a better attitude towards life. She’s not disrespectful anymore. He just treated her like crap all the time.”

Like many folks living in poverty, it wasn’t easy for Toniette to get medical care before coming to Family Promise. “I was really sick,” she says. Her sight was deteriorating due to cataract, diabetes and possibly brain aneurism and stress. “I was in a real dark place. Losing my husband to whatever world he wanted to be in made it better, but it was a deep depression. I couldn’t hardly see anything.”

Through Family Promise’s Medical Advocate, Toni was scheduled for her appointment to have cataracts surgery. “My world was getting darker. I had to look for shadows to see if people were coming. I had to have people help me get my food and eat it.”

Tony said the one thing she missed the most was seeing her daughter’s face. After surgery Tony was ecstatic. ““It’s a whole new world. Everything’s bright. I woke up and I saw colors. I was beautiful. It was amazing. I was like Wow. She’s grown to be a beautiful young lady. It’s actually been a couple years since I was able to see her face without her being in my face,” she laughed. “I lost my world and now it’s back.”

“Family promise, they’ve done everything in their heart and soul to help me get through my problems with my husband and my sight. We’re getting fixed up. I wish there was something I could do to thank them. I don’t know how.”

No need Toni. Your success is our reward. We can’t wait to see where Toni and her family go on the next leg of their journey. Toni is having surgery in one week to repair a cataract in her other eye and will have regained her sight fully by the next day. Her daughter is attending junior high and having fun and doing well in class. Both are happy and looking forward to placement in housing in the near future.

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