“A survivor,” proudly states Doshiemae. “I’m a survivor.”
Five years ago on a warm summer night, Doshiemae was sitting on her mom’s front porch getting ready to go to a Nikki Minaj concert, when several men came walking up the gangway. At first, she thought it was her little brother pulling a prank.
“Out of nowhere, it was gunshots… pop, pop, pop, pop, pop… and I was hit,” she says. “I thought I was going to die.”
She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. It was the scariest moment of her life. She tried running to take cover in the house, but five gunshot wounds to her leg made it impossible for her to flee. She put her faith in God, forced herself to stand and threw herself through the front door into the house.
She lost her ability to walk, which led to losing her job and, eventually, her apartment. She spiraled into severe depression. The overwhelming fear of being shot again kept her from leaving her mother’s house for months. Without a steady source of income due to her injury, Doshiemae ended up homeless – bouncing around from couch to couch, sometimes sleeping in the car with her infant son.
“I didn’t know where I was going to stay at every night,” she says. “It’s like a fast lane, like you’re moving really fast, and you’re just driving down the lane really fast, and you never slow down.”
She says she was ready to give up on life.
After becoming homeless, her friends stopped talking to her, her doctors said she might lose her leg and she felt like she didn’t have anybody in her life that could help her. But one day she was crying, and her 1-year-old son looked up at her and told her not to cry.
That’s when it dawned on her.
“I really need to do something for my family and my son,” she realized. “I have somebody that’s looking up to me.”
She says it was this moment when she decided to turn her life around and overcome the hand she was dealt. She turned to United Way supported agency Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri for counseling and therapy sessions to overcome her depression and support her journey to walk again, to go back to school and to give her life greater meaning. After studying for four years at University of Phoenix and working as a teaching assistant at a preschool, she graduated this summer with her business degree and is starting her own nonprofit.
Before the shooting, Doshiemae described herself as lonely and withdrawn from social situations, suffering from low self-esteem. But today, she is happy. She’s learned to keep the people she loves close by and feels joy in life as a mother, sister, wife and daughter.
She now has two sons that she couldn’t imagine life without.
“They are my motivation to get up every day and go to work, to go around to these functions, church, everything. That’s what I do,” she says. “I’ve got to keep pushing.”
She’s teaching them to be kind and independent and to love each other. To be eager to do things for themselves. To be respectful. But she’s also teaching them it’s okay to depend on others, because she wants them to know they have people in their corners for when life gets tough, just like she did. She hopes that one day they’ll be able to take over the nonprofit and carry on their mother’s legacy of strength and empathy.
While she was struggling with homelessness, Doshiemae didn’t always have simple things that some might take for granted, like clean clothes. If she didn’t have money, she couldn’t go to the laundromat. She would have to ask friends or family if she could come over and borrow their washer and dryer. But she knows not every person who is homeless has that option.
She was working a job as a security officer for MetroLink when she found her calling. “I saw many people that was going through the same situation I was going through; I wanted to help them in return,” she says.
She now wants to put her heart and business degree to work by opening a nonprofit, free-of-charge laundromat for low-income people and people struggling with homelessness. It’s her way of giving back.
“I don’t have much to give, but I just love to see people have what they need, and that help that I wanted to get at the time, I got, I want to give that in return,” she says.
It wasn’t easy for her to ask for help, but she knew she had to provide for her children no matter what. Doshiemae’s experience with a United Way agency helped her get back on her feet and made sure her kids were safe and had everything they needed.
“They helped me realize that it’s not just you that needs help at the time,” she says.
She wants to help people, just like people helped her.
“I want to make a difference. I know what it’s like to be homeless and hopeless, and not having that person to lean on to get that help,” she says. “And I just want to be that person, and to be the shoulder to cry on, or to come to, and if you need help, they can call me. I just love helping people.”
About Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri
Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri serves Missouri families, children and individuals from all walks of life in their greatest times of need. As a nonprofit social services organization, its goal is to open doors for people who are challenged by poverty, unexpected pregnancy, violence, divorce, unemployment, illness, homelessness, loneliness and more. It provides four key areas of support to tackle these challenges: child welfare, mental health services, child and teen development and disaster services. The programs offered empower those who are served to develop healthy, supportive foundations for a lifetime.
For Amy, strength means taking risks to keep your family safe. When she took her kids and fled her abusive husband in 1999, she was met with the support she needed to recover and rebuild.Read her story.
Eva lives out her strength by speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves. With a perfect volunteer attendance record since 2016, she is truly an advocate for the seniors she serves.Learn more about her legacy.
When teachers raised concerns about her daughter's performance in school, Monica didn't know what the future would hold. Her strength is simple: Don't let fear hold you back.Read what happened next.
Fatama's family wasn't there for her during challenging times in her life, but she found her strength in a new support system through United Way. Now, she lives to encourage others at the same agency that helped her escape homelessness.Read about her transformation.
As a single mom of three, everything falls on Heather – work, cooking, housework, keeping up with her kids' schooling and appointments. Her strength lies in knowing that she's not in it alone.Read more.
Angel had the strength and determination to rebuild her life after her father's sudden death – she just needed the right opportunity and some help getting back on her feet.Watch her journey.
Latrina shows her strength in her commitment to filling the "mom" role for the youth she serves. And for "Momma Trina," that means work isn't just a nine-to-five gig.Learn more about her impact.
When Anna was first diagnosed, it was hard to admit that she was different from her classmates. Now, her strength comes from knowing that she's not fighting alone.See how she's grown.