A Chance to Shine: A local woman’s journey from hunger to hope

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In this economic crisis, there’s a local story of perseverance that has gotten national attention.

East Nashville resident LaShenda Williams spent the night in a Kroger parking lot homeless and alone, unsure where her next meal was going to come from.

She now has a job and was given a chance to shine, even in her darkest hours.

“I’ve been here, actually this month, the 10th will be 10 months. You know it’s a great day!” exclaimed Williams.

Williams’ happiness overflows. Her smile, from ear to ear.

“I love it, I get excited every day to come in. I can’t wait to see the workers who I work with. I can’t wait to see the customers,” said Williams.

Her situation hasn’t always been as fortunate, but she kept her faith in a higher power.

“I remember being cold, and I said, ‘Lord, feed me.’ I never knew that sleeping out in that parking lot and wanting something to eat, and all the abuse and all the things I went through would land me right here,” said Williams.

LaShenda’s manager, Jackie Vandal, tells News 2 that she didn’t know how just how bad LaShenda’s situation was.

“I knew there was a struggle, a hardship, but no I didn’t know she was living in her car at the time, no sir,” said Vandal.

Vandal is grateful to have her as an employee.

“She’s a fantastic worker, I wish I had 120 of her,” said Vandal.

LaShenda was hungry, starving, and cold. It was her beliefs that nourished her, fed her a duty to serve, and gave her a sense of purpose in a world full of unknowns.

“Man, words can’t even, I can’t even put it in words,” cried Williams, “All I know is, I just wanted something to eat, that was it. Something to eat, that was it.”

Vandal said Williams’ spirit has touched her life and the lives of her coworkers.

“Let me tell you, she’s changed our lives. We’re more thankful, we’re more appreciative, we’re more happy, we feed off of that ethic and spirit that she has,” said Vandal.

Just wanting some food to eat, and now feeding those around her with kindness, love, and gratitude.

Williams showed News 2 where she had lived.

“This is my spot, and this is baby girl. This is my house, it is. This is the actual spot, because now I know the bigger the storm, the bigger the blessing. I was scared, I didn’t know what to do, whew especially as a woman,” recalled Williams.

Her love of God, providing nourishment for better days ahead.

“There were days I didn’t have anything to eat, but God made me make it through, and I see you crying too!” Williams tells News 2 Photographer Sky Walker, “You don’t see too many men crying. Look man, look, I love you.”

News 2 has learned that LaShenda is no longer living out of her car, she now has an apartment with help from her fellow Kroger employees and community leaders.

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