Former homeless woman shares her story to help Open Door Ministries

Mar. 23, 2014 @ 01:00 AM

Ironically, when times got hard for Medina Lewis, she and her teenage son left New Jersey and came to High Point looking for a new life.
Within three months, she had that new life — one worse than she’d had in New Jersey — when she found herself jobless, homeless and bordering on hopeless.
“It was definitely hard,” Lewis recalls. “I mean, not really knowing the area — not knowing anything about High Point — it was really hard. I didn’t know what we were gonna do.”
What she did was get hooked up with Open Door Ministries — a nonprofit agency that provides food, housing and emergency financial assistance to those in need — and now her sob story is a success story. She has a home, she has a job, she has a future.
And she has hope.
“I never received any help in New Jersey,” Lewis says. “If I wasn’t strung out on drugs or crazy out of my mind or being abused, I wasn’t gonna receive any help in New Jersey. I tried to secure some kind of help, but I didn’t fall under those guidelines, so I wasn’t getting any help. So coming to a new state and having people help me was huge.”
Lewis and two other individuals who have received assistance from Open Door Ministries will share their inspirational stories this week during Open Door’s annual Gala Celebration Dinner and Silent Auction.
The event will be held Tuesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the High Point Country Club. The silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Lewis’ story goes back to January 2013, when times had gotten hard for her in New Jersey. Her hours at work had been cut back significantly, and she couldn’t find another job. On the verge of losing her apartment, she agreed to move to High Point and live with her sister, Quazirah Mills, until she could find work down here and get settled. Her son, Tashaan, came with her, while her daughter, Mariyah, stayed with Lewis’ mom in New Jersey to finish out the school year.
“I didn’t see what else to do,” Lewis says, “so we came to High Point.”
As she searched for a job here, the living situation with her sister became increasingly difficult, and by April she and Tashaan were out on the street. She ended up at Leslie’s House, a West End Ministries shelter for single homeless women, while Tashaan — who was 18 at the time — stayed in the men’s shelter at Open Door Ministries.
“I knew when I went to the shelter at Leslie’s House, I had no intention of staying there for a long time,” Lewis says. “What I needed was a job. In my first meeting, I explained that I’m new down here and don’t know a lot of people, but I’ve placed job applications and I just need some employment.”
In the meantime, she worked with Open Door Ministries and was able to get an apartment for her and Tashaan, after they’d spent about a month at the shelters. Shortly after she obtained housing, a temp agency helped Lewis get part-time jobs working in the cafeterias at a couple of Guilford County Schools. Now she’s landed a better job that she’ll start in the next couple of weeks — working as a teacher’s assistant in an after-school program.
Tashaan is now a senior at Southwest Guilford High School, where he’s scheduled to graduate in June “and hopefully move on to bigger and better things,” Lewis says.
Lewis’ daughter has joined her in High Point now, and she’s a junior at Southwest Guilford.
An important part of Lewis’ story, she points out, is that she not only needed help, but was also willing to help herself.
“When I was at the shelter, I did what I was supposed to do — I went out every day looking for work,” she explains. “They want to see that you’re doing what’s necessary in order to leave the shelter. It just goes to show that people will help you if they know you’re helping yourself.”
The experience of being homeless was difficult — and humbling — “but it was an experience that makes us that much more grateful for the things we have and for the people who stepped in to help us,” Lewis adds.
That’s why she was so willing to share her story Tuesday evening at the event for Open Door Ministries.
“I feel like if I can tell my story and help other people out there, and help Open Door Ministries get donations, then I’m all for it,” Lewis says. “They’ve been nothing but a blessing to me and my family.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

Want to go?

Open Door Ministries will host a Gala Celebration Dinner and Silent Auction on Tuesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the High Point Country Club, 800 Country Club Drive.
The silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Admission is $40 per person, and an RSVP is required.
All proceeds will benefit Open Door Ministries.
To RSVP or for further information, contact Leslie Graham at 885-0191.