October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Abuse and violence can create isolation, but for Tanikka Lewis, she chose to step out of her comfort zone for support at the Buckner Family Hope Center™ in her community. Not only did the resources rebuild her confidence and stability, but the program impacted her entire family. The story below is contributed by Henry Jackson, senior vice president of Buckner Children and Family Services.
When we choose to look up, we can see all the opportunities and blessings placed before us to succeed in life, regardless of the struggles we may be experiencing. The Buckner Family Hope Center™ at Reed Road in Houston is a perfect example of one of those opportunities.
This is where Tanikka Lewis, a 27-year-old African American woman, found hope. Lewis currently lives with her husband and four beautiful sons, who are 4,5, 13 and 15 years old. Lewis had a great childhood with a supportive family, but due to choices she made, the door opened to abuse and instability for herself and her family.
This led to a history of domestic abuse from prior relationships, chipping at her self-esteem and mental health. The relationships in her life created instability and an inability to provide for herself and family during this period of her life.
Although Lewis resisted the help at first, Buckner became a second home for her and her family
In March 2019, Lewis was referred to the Buckner One-Room program through the local Child Protective Services director, Denise Crawford.
“That was the best thing that happened to my family,” Lewis shared.
Originally, she resisted seeking help at Buckner because she thought her privacy would be taken away from her. But Buckner continued to check in and communicate the services available to her. Lewis shared that even a case manager would come around to check on her when she was having a difficult day.
“Buckner is like my second home, but it is not just for me, but my kids as well,” she said. “One of the things I have learned is that it never hurts to try!”
Lewis has found and maintained both employment and stable housing. Overcoming homelessness is a proud moment for her and family. She and her family have been supported with resources such as food, clothing, educational classes and other opportunities.
Creating structure and success for generations
“I feel supported, heard, understood and not judged,” Lewis said. “My family coach is a big part of why I feel this way.”
Lewis now understands the importance of work and family balance, and working to provide material things for her children is not what is important but instead, being present. Lewis has learned how to manage her responsibilities, her finances and priorities.
She sees the power in looking up and how important spirituality and prayer is to keep her grounded through the adversity of life.
Doors of opportunity are opening
Lewis recently obtained her certified nurse aid (CNA) certification and is excited for the new opportunities that will come with that.
“I’ve been putting off my education for so long and now that I’m stable, it’s my time to focus on my education and career goals,” shared Lewis. “If I could speak to my younger self or other young women, I would say, ‘love yourself.’ I would not change anything about my story, but to love myself more and put me first.”
Her oldest son is graduating high school in three years and Lewis intends to pave the way for his future as well as his siblings. Through what she’s learned and the hope she has found, Lewis is transforming the generations of her family.