By the time she finished high school, Tiana’s family relationships were shaky so she moved in with a friend after high school. “I was babysitting her kids and trying to look for work on the side but the kids took up a lot of time.” Once she found a job, her living situation got complicated. “When I was getting ready to leave for work, my housemate would make excuses about things she had to do,” Tiana recounted. Knowing their mother had left the children alone before, Tiana would skip work to ensure their safety. Eventually, she lost her job.
“All along, people at my church said that I needed to break away from the situation. They told me to ‘go to a shelter’ so I could start over,” Tiana shared. For a long time she ignored their advice. “When I got a new job at a produce plant, I finally listened,” she said. “I knew I’d lose my new job soon, if I didn’t move out.” She placed a phone call and the Outreach Team brought her to the Covenant House Michigan.
In addition to her job, Tiana has also been working on her education. “I finished my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training in December, and will be taking the state test this month.” For her, a CNA is the first step toward fulfilling a lifelong dream. Tiana still recalls being a young child in Memphis, Tennessee in Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. “The nurses spoiled me,” Tiana stated, “coming in and out of the room asking, ‘is the baby ok?’ Even at my regular doctor appointments everyone was so nice,” she recalled. By age 7, Tiana was determined to become a nurse. Now that her CNA training is finished, the CHM Employment Program is assisting her in applying for jobs in home health care.
Ms. Sutherland and Mr. Simpson are two of the staff she credits with helping her adapt since her arrival. She loves Mr. Simpson’s way of putting a smile on the faces of so many residents with his goofy comments and constant jokes. “He was even joking when I got here and made me feel comfortable.” As for Ms. Sutherland, she provides a strong, yet cheerful presence keeping Tiana on track. Ms. Sutherland stays on my back but she still keeps a smile on her face,” Tiana shared. “Even when I get mad and then go back to her, she’s still smiling.”