"She is the biggest proof of resilience and determination.": Madonna House resident welcomes her new path


“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am willing to look for a new life that, for the first time, includes my baby.”  ~ Lakeisha


Born to a teenage mom and given over to foster care at four months old, Lakeisha is a product of the system. She herself is now pregnant and striving to take steps to keep her baby and break the cycle of generational trauma. 

Today, she is at Catholic Charities Madonna House, a transitional living home for expectant mothers facing a difficult time. Not long ago, she was staying in a tent at 11th and Garnett in Tulsa and living a very hard life.

Struggling with a drug problem, she was stuck. She took the courageous step to get clean and sober at 12 and 12 Recovery Center, but while there she found out she was pregnant. Knowing she needed additional support after graduating treatment, a loving family member began to research additional help and discovered Catholic Charities Madonna House. Madonna House is transitional living for expecting and new moms where they can live in a supportive environment and make positive advancements in her own life.

 “Lakeisha came to Madonna House with a bang. We heard her, we saw her, we knew she was here,” says Veronika Swiney, Manager of Transitional Living at Catholic Charities. “The first few weeks were rough. Behind that thick, tough shell was a girl who needed love, patience and the support of everyone in Madonna House.”

“I love it here,” says Lakeisha. “The staff is loving and kind and is teaching me all kinds of new tools to live a new way of life.”

Looking back, Lakeisha tells us she didn’t mind being raised as property of the state of Texas and liked the variety of structured environments provided to her over the years. But, at 18 years old when she left the “system”, she began working in the real world and says she was “brushing shoulders with the wrong crowd.” She quickly started down the wrong path. “I began using drugs to feel differently, to get relief from the pain I was living in, because I felt so alone.”

She came to Oklahoma at 32 years old and within two years, her lifestyle, along with methamphetamine and alcohol abuse, were taking its toll. She had already given two children up for adoption and two to the foster care system. But, for the first time, with newfound sobriety and the love and support of Madonna House, she feels things are truly changing. “It’s different this time, because I am clean and sober, but I am also getting support.”

“By the time Lakeisha graduated from our Pursuit of Happiness group, she was showing and telling everyone how it's done,” says Swiney. “She is a wonderful example to anyone involved in or visiting Madonna House. Her motto has always been ‘One Day at a Time’ and she is the biggest example of the truth of this statement.”

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Lakeisha. “I am willing to look for a new life that, for the first time, includes my baby.”

After her baby girl is born, she can look forward to gradually making a transition to Catholic Charities St. Elizabeth Lodge, which uses a slightly different transitional living model where women and their children get their own apartment and begin taking on more responsibilities, including working and taking money management courses.  She says, “These homes do not feel like institutions, though, because they are loving and encouraging environments that push us to do better. “

Her life is completely different than it was at 11th and Garnett. “Lakeisha has grown from a ‘tough street girl’ to someone who respects and cares for others on a daily basis,” says Swiney. “She is the biggest proof of resilience and determination, and we are all so looking forward to seeing what's next for her!”


UPDATE: In early September, Lakeisha's daughter, Journey, was born. Both mom and baby are doing amazing! Lakeisha is continuing to work toward stability and will begin her new job as a parent mentor for DHS in January. Her friendliness and positive demeanor are a joy to those who meet her on campus and we love to see how she and little Journey are bonding.


For more information on Madonna House, click here.