Acts of Kindness
Kroger manager goes out on a limb to hire homeless woman that unbeknownst to her sleeps in parking lot
The manager went so far as to help the woman with her employment application but had no idea she was sleeping in the parking lot.
Sasha Alonzo
10.13.21

One of the biggest myths about homeless people is that they’re all intentionally living on the streets and don’t want help. However, not every person’s situation is the same.

Each homeless person has their own incredibly personal backstory as to why they’re living without a roof over their head. It’s wrong to lump all homeless people in the same box and assume that they’re happy to not have homes.

Meet Jackie Vandal

One woman, who knows this all too well, is Jackie Vandal, manager of a Kroger store in East Nashville.

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Taking a chance

She employed a homeless woman, despite not knowing her full situation, and says she’s a “fantastic” worker.

LaShenda Williams was the homeless woman in question. During her days of homelessness, she lived in her car, and slept with the seat leaned back in the car park in the hopes that she wouldn’t be spotted.

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Hitting rock bottom

With no job and no idea where her next meal would come from, LaShenda had hit rock bottom. Addiction and abuse had forced her out of her home, and she didn’t know how to get back on her feet. Speaking to WKRN, she recalled:

“There were days I didn’t have anything to eat, but God made me make it through.”

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Her faith in God meant that despite everything, LaShenda stayed positive, and visited the Kroger store to tell Jackie Vandal that she planned to one day work there too.

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Asking for help

LaShenda she never believed anything would truly come from it, recalling:

“I remember being cold, and I said, ‘Lord, feed me.’ I never knew that sleeping out in that parking lot and wanting something to eat, and all the abuse and all the things I went through would land me right here.”

But Jackie liked LaShenda’s attitude and shared a job opening for her to apply to.

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Speaking to NBC Nightly News, she said:

“It was just a sense, a gut feeling. You can just tell when people are really genuine and people that you know are trying.”

Jackie spent a couple of hours helping LaShenda fill out her application, and as soon as it was completed, Jackie hired LaShenda on the spot, telling her she’d call her in a few days.

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Not knowing her LaShenda’s situation

At the time, Jackie had no idea how bad LaShenda’s situation was, admitting:

“I knew there was a struggle, a hardship, but no I didn’t know she was living in her car at the time, no sir.”

But Jackie showed no prejudice and hired LaShenda based on her character alone. And now, 10 months later, LaShenda is still proving to be an asset to the business.

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The best worker

According to Jackie, not only is LaShenda incredibly hard-working, but she also has a spirit that has touched the lives of herself and her coworkers. She added:

“We’re more thankful, we’re more appreciative, we’re more happy, we feed off of that ethic and spirit that she has.”

As for LaShenda, she now has her own apartment, which community members and coworkers helped to furnish.

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Changing her life

She spoke emotionally of how life-changing her job has been for her, saying:

“I’ll continue working hard every day to spread the love and joy like no other. For the very first time, now I know what love is. Now I know what friendship is.”

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Hear Jackie and LaShenda’s incredible story in the video below. Jackie took a chance most people wouldn’t have done by hiring a homeless woman but it most certainly paid off.

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By Sasha Alonzo
hi@sbly.com
Sasha Alonzo is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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