“Room at the Inn works. Bottom line. It works. I am living proof of that,” says Latasha Wilford. “So many doors have been opened for me and I am grateful. I have received far more that what I needed here.”
A few months ago, Latasha was pulled over by the cops. Much to her surprise, she was arrested for outstanding traffic violations she did not commit. Latasha was the victim of identity theft and during her seven days in jail, she was able to sort out the details of what happened with the police. Eventually, her name was cleared and her driver’s license returned but in the process, Latasha lost her job. Because she no longer could pay her portion of the rent, she called the St. Louis County Homeless Hotline.
“I remember the person at the hotline telling me I would be traveling to and sleeping in different churches every night,” recalls Latasha. “After experiencing Room’s program, this is what I would tell a caller … ‘There is an opening at Room at the Inn. You will experience some of the most unique and amazing congregations in St. Louis each night. You will have an opportunity to spend the evening with warm and caring volunteers as you transition yourself back to stability.’”
By working through Room’s program, Latasha was recently hired by American Income Life Insurance Company. She will be selling life insurance products, annuities and various group policies.
“We often assist our clients with utility payments, deposits or application fees. For Latasha, we are assisting her with the fees for her online training, testing and insurance licensing,” explains Program Director Valorie Ferlis. “We feel this is a good investment to stabilize her situation and provide for reliable income moving forward.”
Latasha is grateful to Room for helping her acquire the necessary licensing for her new job and is already putting what she has learned to use.
“I was studying at one of the night sites and a volunteer came to sit with me. He told me he was concerned about his term insurance coverage. We talked and I shared with him what I had learned about term insurance from my class,” says Latasha. “Because Room is helping me get my license, I want to make sure everything I do with my license helps someone, even if they are not my customer.”
Latasha feels the nightly interactions between the clients and volunteers are a very important component of Room’s program and to her success.
“I have experienced compassion from complete strangers every night. In addition to that, I have been assisted, supported and helped every way that I could be helped in my situation. Trust me, becoming homeless certainly wasn’t in my five year plan,” says Latasha. “It is very easy to be mad at the world and want to blame something or someone. I pray that anyone who comes to Room opens their mind up enough to receive what is being given here. If you do, you will get far more than a job or housing. I am leaving empowered. I am leaving renewed. I am leaving with a whole new perspective on how I can pay it forward one day. My one year goal is I want to be back at Room … volunteering!”