In the words of former American boxer and boxing producer, Floyd Mayweather, “A true champion will fight through anything.” With that statement in view, Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency found a true champion in Shameir Smith, single mom of two small children, ages four and two. Her fight from homelessness to self-sustainability wasn’t an easy one, but it is certainly an inspiring one.

width=Shameir Smith and Case Manager Paula Daniels

Shameir suffered complications during her second pregnancy that left her unable to work, and she lost her job. Her daughter was born in 2016 with health issues that are still being addressed. Due to her job loss, she was unable to afford her apartment and moved in temporarily with a friend. With nowhere else to go when the friend’s home became too crowded, she moved into a hotel and found new employment.

The only asset Shameir owned was her car, which needed repair. Unable to continue paying hotel costs, she found herself living in her car with her children. They were homeless and without income for proper housing, and she had no strong support system to help.

While driving through Murfreesboro, TN, in late March, 2018, she saw a Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency sign on a business door and stopped to see if they could help with car repair. After completing an application, she was referred to the Comprehensive Family Case Management Program, where she met MCCAA Case Manager, Paula Daniels. Upon reviewing her case, Paula saw they could help Shameir with car repair because she was employed. Immediately after taking her car to the automotive shop, however, Shameir lost her job, and she no longer qualified for car repair assistance.

Fortunately, Shameir Smith is a fighter, and she was determined not to quit. She knew life would get better if she would just keep pushing, and she committed to meeting with Paula every two weeks to determine the steps she needed to take to overcome homelessness. Her dad was able to intervene and take care of the car repair bill and to help pay hotel bills during the three months it took to get her car back. Once Shameir had transportation again, she sought part-time employment so she could continue to physically care for her children. Paula referred her to several employment sources, and she landed a part-time job as a receptionist.

After finding a job, Paula referred Shameir to Amelia’s closet, who provided Shameir with a new business wardrobe and a gift certificate for her hair and nails. In addition, MCCAA provided an electricity deposit to help Shameir and her family move into a three-bedroom apartment, and they utilized LIHEAP to cover initial electric bills. Paula also provided food, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies from the MCCAA food and hygiene pantry.

Shameir believes she would probably still be homeless without assistance from MCCAA. She enjoys the encouragement Paula gives her at their bi-weekly appointments, where they have created a budget to move from one step to the next to get her on her feet again. Her son will soon start Pre-K, and she has applied to Head Start for early childcare for her daughter. Things are definitely changing for the better for Shameir and her family.

“I just saw motivation and resilience in her, and I knew she would make it. Shameir is very consistent; she pays her bills, keeps her appointments, and is both dependable and trustworthy,” explained Paula. Shameir’s poverty matrix has risen from 0% to 80% under Paula’s guidance, and she will soon be dismissed from the CFCM Program as a success.

“Keep pushing; don’t give up. God wakes you up every day to make your situation better. I’ve done a lot of praying! Keep moving forward,” Shameir advises any single mom who finds herself homeless. Six months from now, she sees herself doing better, rising higher, and not going backwards. She hopes to eventually go to school to become a dental assistant or even a dentist, and her determination to fight has made her a true champion already!