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Wrapped Boxes

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“It would mean the world to me for y’all to tell my story. Y’all helped moved mountains, every stone in my life.” - Tonya

Two years ago, I watched her fly over my house in a Medivac helicopter on the way to Baptist Hospital, not knowing if she was going to make it. Today, I’m writing to share more of her incredible journey. And in her words, “It would mean the world to me for y’all to tell my story.”


Flashback to when Tonya first walked into our doors, an isolated, fragile, and scared young woman who became homeless after fleeing an abusive marriage. Like so many others, she was initially closed off, not trusting of anyone, including our staff dedicated to help her. Healing starts with rebuilding that trust and what we were initially able to offer Tonya was a safe place to lay her head at night.


As she began to gain trust in the Hospitality House staff walking beside her, we recognized that the significant trauma Tonya had endured necessitated a slow journey. Despite the pain involved in reliving those traumas, she continued to work, showing up at every counseling opportunity that was offered.


Even though she was afraid, she took steps to improve her physical health, becoming more active and taking long bike rides. After years of forced isolation, she even made a friend with another young woman staying with us. That friend became a source of inspiration, motivation, and resilience. Once that friend moved to her own place, conversations began with Tonya about moving out on her own. Fear took hold once again and we had to remember that this type of healing can be a very delicate process, a slow journey.


That day on my front porch, I said a prayer as the Medivac helicopter rushed her to Winston-Salem. When she finally woke up weeks later in a hospital bed, Tonya’s strength started to return, having survived once again, motivating her to keep going. She has often said “y’all helped moved mountains, every stone in my life,” but we remind her that she is the one who climbed that mountain and has done the hard work of showing up for herself, fighting for a renewed life.  We were just doing our jobs, staying present, providing stability, and ensuring safety.

Before coming to Hospitality House, in the ultimate act of love, Tonya sent her children to stay with their grandparents to keep them safe from an abusive home. Her journey back to self-worth is motivated by her desire to be reunited with her children. This week she told me, “I am daydreaming of my babies, knowing that they can see me again. I want to fill the holes of my children’s hearts. We are closer now than ever before.”


I replied, “This latest news, reconnecting with your precious children, is a gift for people to hear about. It is not a complete story, as you continue to write the pages, growing and gaining strength. I’ve watched your confidence and peace slowly return.”


Now residing in her own efficiency apartment in our Permanent Supportive Housing program, Tonya continues to show up every day, resilient in her pursuit of feeling whole again, worthy of being loved and reunited with her children. Tonya wanted us to tell her story so that everyone would know how thankful she is for our presence in her life. We wanted to tell her story to thank you for giving her the time to go through the work of healing.

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Executive Director

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In accordance with IRS regulations, we acknowledge that no goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Section at (919) 807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State. Federal Tax ID 56-1442966

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