Resident Spotlight: Vanessa Lawrence

After the Storm

Vanessa LawrenceVanessa and her family’s lives were forever changed by the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused along the Gulf Coast. After the storm passed through Mississippi, Vanessa and her family lost their home and were left living in a temporary FEMA trailer.

“After Katrina, people couldn’t get homes, anywhere,” she said. “But my sister lives in Colorado and, at the time, her business was thriving, so we at least had somewhere to go.”

Vanessa and her family picked up what was left of their lives and headed to Colorado. Unfortunately, Vanessa’s sister was a real estate investor and when the foreclosure crises hit, Vanessa’s sister lost everything. Once again, Vanessa was left facing homelessness. “There was just so much going on at the time. It was rough,” she said. “But I have a daughter to think about and I’m her strength. I’m her source for everything. I have to stay strong for her.”

After eight months of searching for an apartment, Vanessa received a phone call from Mercy Housing’s Decatur Place Apartments in Denver.

“I was so happy, I threw my hands in the air and thanked God. It was like a weight had been lifted. ”

Decatur Place provided the stable home that Vanessa needed to help her focus on rebuilding her life. Vanessa hopes to own a restaurant one day, serving up the Southern cooking for which she is well-known.

“This has been a time of healing. I take it day by day, but I can’t stop dreaming,” Vanessa said. “I can’t lose the vision of who I want to be for my daughter and myself. Everyone at Decatur Place is here to give you a hand up. They help you. They push you. But nobody judges you. When I leave here, I hope I can pay it forward and help someone else, just like Decatur Place has helped me.”