CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Homelessness is a real problem in Charlotte. On any given night, on average more than 300 women and their children are sleeping at the Salvation Army Center of Hope.
The Center of Hope is giving residents a way to a brighter future. Blanche Gaddy has been homeless twice. She was without a roof over top of her head for her and her family in 1998 and in 2018. She didn’t let the challenges she was going through prevent her from sharing her talent. Gaddy used her gift of writing and produced a book, while she was in the shelter. She says she struggled to write the book.
“I fell to my knees and said ‘Lord, how am I going to write a book?’" Gaddy said. "I haven’t read a book since middle school high school I didn’t even finish school.”
Gaddy has a 9th grade education. She says God told her to tell her story. Her book is entitled "If These Walls Could Talk."
“It talks about molestation. It talks about rape. It talks about church. It talks about the street life, the trouble I got into and what led me down that road and how God is bringing me out, and how He never leaves you," Gaddy said.
Gaddy now has a home and three books under her belt. She says she wouldn’t have gotten where she is right now if it wasn’t for the assistance of the Salvation Army.
“They helped me with like life skills, how to get back on my feet. They offered classes," Gaddy said. “I will never forget the shelter because they poured into my life.”
When Gaddy first arrived at the Salvation Army in 1998, Deronda Metz was her social worker. Years later, Metz is still at the Salvation Army as the shelter’s director.
“We have social workers here to help people to get back on their feet,” Metz said. “Employment services, health clinics, head start for our children.”
Metz says she is proud of Gaddy. She hopes she will be an inspiration to other women who are in the shelter. The director says people should not count out occupants of the shelter.
“People, when they talk about homelessness, they don’t understand that there are a lot of talented creative, educated people,” Metz said.
Since 2012, the Salvation Army Center of Hope has helped more than 1,160 families and single women find homes. Metz wants the shelter to keep helping occupants get back on their feet.
“We are expanding programs so that we make sure that people get an income so they’ll be able to hopefully afford some of the housing in Charlotte, so they won’t have to be here in the Salvation Army shelter," Metz said.
"Don’t look down and feel sorry for me," Gaddy said. "Help me so I can move on about my way."
The author and former homeless woman goes back to the shelter often to read her books and talk to the occupants. She says it is making a difference. Other women are reading about Gaddy’s story and it resonates with them. They say the story motivates them to tap into their own gifts. Gaddy has advice for the shelter residents.
"Not to give up on themselves," Gaddy said. "That they can make it. I know it’s hard sometimes."