When Danielle was just 6 years old, her mother died of a heart attack. Shortly after, her father passed from complications of alcoholism. She and her two brothers—her older sister was old enough to live on her own—moved from Maryland to South Central Los Angeles to live with an aunt. “I call her mom—she legally adopted us,” Danielle said. “She’s a school teacher and did a great job at raising five children—she had two of her own. She’s a Christian mom, and we had a stable household and great upbringing.”
Danielle finished school despite getting pregnant at 16. She raised her baby at her mom’s, but when she started dancing for a living, she got her own apartment. “I didn’t believe in dragging my daughter through the streets. I wanted stability for her. The work
I was in, I would sleep during the day and be up at night. But I would still take her to school and pick her up. I was always at my mom’s house with her. I was just absent at night, living in an apartment right down the street.”
But at 29, when Danielle got pregnant again and was in an abusive relationship, she moved back with her mom. She was working at Target. “I was living there for a few years.I was managing, living paycheck to paycheck.”
Last year, Danielle found out she was pregnant again, and her pregnancy was high risk. She couldn’t continue her job, which consisted of unloading the trucks and lifting heavy boxes. At 22 weeks, Danielle went into early labor, which fortunately, the doctors were able to stop. “I was told I needed to take it easy. I was basically homeless. My mom was letting me stay with her, but eventually her landlord said I couldn’t live there. I was sleeping in my car, taking showers at my sister’s … I asked the county for assistance, and they told me about the mission.
“I was 30 weeks pregnant when I moved in. I still had about two more months to bake her. I was grateful they accepted me. They knew my circumstances. They knew I was having a high-risk pregnancy. I couldn’t do too much because I didn’t want to lose my baby. And they still accepted me—I’m so grateful.”
Danielle was on bed rest until she had her daughter a couple months ago. She brought her baby home to the mission after a week in the hospital. She and her baby daughter, as well as her 3-year-old son, are doing great. “I really like it here,” Danielle said. “I don’t want to leave before I find an apartment and a job. I felt stagnant for so long when I was on bed rest, because I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do much. Now that she’s here, I’m finally feeling a little better. I have a smile on my face.
“’The staff here have been so helpful throughout my pregnancy. They’ve accommodated me. I’ve been so happy to have them in my corner the whole time.”
Danielle said she’d recommend the mission to anyone who needs some help, but is willing to put in the work. “Some people just need a little push. There are a lot of programs, and a lot of support. And there are a lot of great donors behind this place. It’s on the person. If you’re serious about getting up on your feet and succeeding in life, you can go far. You can be a success story. I plan on being a success story. I’m going to be a success story. And I’m going to come back and serve (the clients) and tell them that I was here not too long ago and give them a little hope.”