On the surface, Shameika Richardson is a kindhearted individual and a devoted mother to Laylah (6), a feisty little girl. Digging deeper, Shameika’s story is a testament to what courage, perseverance, and hard work can accomplish. COTS recently sat down with Shameika to hear her story and learn about the plans that she has for the future.
Tell our readers a little bit about your backstory.
Shameika: I was born in Chicago, and my family moved to Detroit when I was seven. I have four blood siblings, and five adopted siblings. My father wasn’t around, and I didn’t meet him until I was 18.
What brought you to COTS?
Shameika: My mother would kick us kids out of the house when we were teenagers. When I was 14, my mom and I had an argument, and I ran away. When I tried to go back, the doors were locked, and my mom had left. I ended up in a group home, which was so terrible. The group home placed me back with my mom, but she didn’t want me there. When I arrived, she told me I was going to a family friend’s house for a sleepover. She never came back to pick me up. After that situation, I was running from pillow to post, trying to find somewhere to stay. By this point, I had a baby to take care of, and we were living in my car. I contacted COTS for help, and I was there as soon as a spot opened up.
What does your life look like now?
Shameika: Totally different. I am a schoolteacher. I am working on building my credit and working on obtaining my cosmetology license and becoming state certified. Compared to where I came from, it is greater than great can be. I have a beautiful home and my daughter is so comfortable there. I am in school, and I work for an ambulance company. I’m learning to budget and make good financial decisions
Once you settled in, what were some of the programs that you found the most beneficial?
Shameika: Passport to Self-Sufficiency. When I was growing up, all I had been taught was that no one in this world cares about you, and you’re going to be out there, all alone, with nothing but struggles. Passport to Self-Sufficiency helped me figure things out about myself. It helped me overcome roadblocks and prepare for future challenges. The help doesn’t stop once you get a roof over your head. COTS cares about our entire well-being as a person.
What are some of your goals for the future?
Shameika: I have a passion for other humans, and I’d like to work in healthcare. My daughter has a passion for fashion design, and I’d also like to start a business for her to sell her creations.
Are there any individuals at COTS that you would like to recognize for making an impact in your life?
Shameika: Ms. Nikki and Ms. Walker. They both came into our orientation meeting to meet us and brought so much light to our darkness. Ms. Nikki was so easy to talk to and made things so much fun. Ms. Walker was intimidating at first, but once the ice was broken, I was able to really confide in her, and she has helped me identify steppingstones in my life.
Do you have any advice for other people who need help?
Shameika: It’s hard to admit you need help, and your pride can hold you back. Don’t let it. Asking for help is something that can change not only your current situation, but your whole life. It’s worth it.
Why should people give to COTS?
Shameika: My situation was bad, but there are so many people who came to COTS with less than what I had. COTS goes beyond just providing shelter and meals. The resources and tools they provide help you take pride in in yourself again.