My Friend Lawanda


Can you imagine being in a constant state of stress due to a perpetual balance of unpaid rent, worrying about your child’s future, and where you will find money for the next meal? When we met Lawanda, she was surviving in this kind of a life.

Lawanda is a strong, black woman living at Village Oaks who is raising a 12-year-old son on her own. The tattoos on her body help tell her story, and the one on her forearm lets you know her nickname: “C-BYRD."

Lawanda began to volunteer with Behind Every Door out of a felt need to support the kids program in which her son was involved. After months of volunteering, we saw tenacity and leadership in Lawanda and helped her secure a job with another non-profit. For months she commuted 3 hours each way, never complaining. Imagine commuting 6 hours to work for 3 hours; I don’t think I would have had the determination to try that hard.

In her new job, Lawanda’s tenacity and leadership shined all the more brightly. So, we hired her back to Village Oaks to be a Community Ambassador.

Daily, Lawanda knocks on doors to listen to friends living in the neighborhood. She comforts and she advocates. She is the voice of our community, and she plays a key role in the transformation taking place.

I am fairly certain the last 3 years of working with Lawanda have been a greater blessing to me than to her.

For me, I have a dear friend who is gracious, loving, and loyal. I have a friend who teaches me about generosity and service, who challenges my faith and my love.

For Lawanda, she is becoming a better parent, she pays her rent early, she is saving money, she is a key leader in the community, and she is planning a bright and hopeful future for herself and her son.

Will DowellVillage Oaks