something good

Dallas woman making her second chance at life count

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Rhonda Willingham’s story is one of heartbreak, incarceration, disappointments, and redemption.

“I made a promise to God. When I was on the street, that if he brought me out, I would serve him until the day I did in doing so. The Lord has blessed me. He showed me why I went through that fiery furnace that I went through because he had a job for me to do,” Willingham said.

Willingham spent more than 18 years of her life on the streets, in and out of prison on drug convictions and experiencing homelessness. She said a big part of her struggle was drug addiction.

“I smoked dope. I sold dope. I did it all,” Willingham said. “But one day I heard this voice telling me that this was my chance. That all this had to be over.”

She found her way into recovery and decided to use her second chance at life to help others get theirs.

“I started Making It Count Incorporated [in 2010]. We help people where they are,” Willingham said.

Their core volunteers have served more than 10,000 meals, and distributed 8,500 hygiene packs and more than 1,300 coats and blankets during the winter months. On Wednesdays, they open a local laundromat for any and everyone to come and get clothes washed and to also find a space where they can feel they are wanted, especially those experiencing homelessness.

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“I call them unsheltered or displaced because everybody that I deal with out there needs to be counted. They aren’t homeless because they have a home in heaven. These people are in a position where they just can’t make ends meet, they can’t find work. I’m just there to help them,” Willingham said.

She said that her continued efforts to help others remind her on a daily basis that she was once where they are and that what they need, more than anything, is a helping hand and a listening heart.

“I know this isn’t an easy fix. I’m not doing anything that big. I’m just doing the small things. I just want to show them that they are loved and that they are God’s children,” Willingham said.

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