A Source of Encouragement and Hope

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Chanté Liddell is a polished Spoken Word artist and proud working mother at a nonprofit where she helps others find good-paying jobs to support their families.Having lived through housing instability as a child and lots of family heartache, she is a great source of encouragement and hope.

“People who have fallen on hard times really connect with me because I was there,” she said.

As a young child, Chanté remembers a happy family life that slowly started to unravel. “It was just a matter of time before my father drank himself to death,” Chanté shared.

In third grade, Chanté also had a secret she was too embarrassed to tell her friends: she was living in a shelter. “I didn’t want to be judged. I just wanted to be a kid living a normal life.”

Her family moved almost every year, creating chaos with changing schools and anxiety about where they would sleep. Even with turmoil, Chanté excelled in school, especially in English.

“I was very shy and reserved and didn’t really know how to express myself, but when I wrote, all of my thoughts poured out,” she shared.  Her love of poetry and the Spoken Word art form that combines creative word play with voice inflection has helped her make sense of the pressures of her daily life.

Those pressures came to a tipping point when she dropped out of high school. By age 18, she was on the street herself — couch hopping with no stable place to stay.

At a crossroads, she landed a job as a restaurant manager, and a stable apartment.

She also became a new mother, which gave her even more motivation to press forward.  But, she quickly and painfully realized that her weekly paycheck didn’t stretch very far, leaving them at the end of the month without food or enough to make the rent.

“It was a scary time for us,” she said. “I felt defeated.” Then, she secured a coveted spot at Rezek House in St. Paul, which offers short-term housing and support through Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.

“I remember when I first walked through their doors,” she said. “A warm feeling came over me. There was laughter in the air and the smell of dinner being cooked in the kitchen.”

“I felt unconditional love,” she said. “People here believe in you.”

Chanté finished her high school education (she aced her state writing exam) and learned new skills, including money management, at LSS of MN. “I know how to budget and am a lot smarter financially,” she said. “All of those important things you need in life finally came into play for me at LSS in a way that I could understand. Without LSS, I might still be couch hopping.”

After a rewarding day at work, Chanté relishes being a mother and keeps a daily ritual at bedtime, reading with her 3-year-old daughter, whom Chanté calls “the best part of me.”

“People I work with ask me how I did it,” she said. “The truth is, I always had a vision for how I wanted my life to be, and LSS gave me the motivation to keep pushing myself.”

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