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Homeless Woman Who Slept in Kroger Parking Lot Has Life Transformed After Hiring Manager Trusts 'Gut Feeling'

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A good attitude can get you a long way, even when you don’t have much else to your name — and LaShenda Williams is a prime example of that.

Williams has gone through some serious lows in her life: Abuse, addiction and homelessness are just a few of the life experiences she’s weathered.

For some time, she slept in her car — but she had to work to make sure no one caught on.

“I would lean my seat all the way back so no one would see me because, you know, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there,” the 46-year-old told NBC News.

She was staying in the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store in Tennessee earlier this year, and that proved to be a saving grace.

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Hiring manager Jackie Vandal said she’d recognized Williams as a regular, but she didn’t know the background behind just how much of a regular she was.

She posted a hiring flier, and that’s when she got to know a bit more about the familiar face.

“Will y’all hire me? You got room for me?” Williams asked Vandal, according to the Nashville Tennessean.

Immediately, Vandal felt a pull toward Williams. There was something about the upbeat woman that convinced Vandal to give her a chance.

“You get a feel if someone’s sincere or if they’re just trying to get a job to say they got one and then quit a month later,” Vandal told the Tennessean. “She was very sincere.”

“It was just a sense, a gut feeling,” she told NBC. “You can just tell when people are really genuine.”

One problem: Vandal couldn’t hire Williams without an official online application being submitted. Williams did have an old laptop, but no way to power it, so the two worked together, and it wasn’t long before Williams was set up near an outlet, filling out the digital paperwork.

As soon as she submitted the application, Vandal hired her — with a promise: “Don’t you worry about anything. I’m going work you to death, and we’ll take care of you.”

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Williams’ life looks very different now. She’s managed to find a place to live, and is a bright light at the grocery store she used to frequent as a homeless customer.

“Don’t let anybody steal your joy!” she is known to say while on the job. “It’s going to be a great day!”

“I was sleeping in a parking lot and looking for something to eat,” she told the Tennessean. “Now, all my babies here love on me. No one abuses me, and no one calls me dumb and stupid. For the first time in my life, I finally got peace.”

She’s gone above and beyond, and has even caught the eye and heart of other managers as well.

“We are so lucky to have Lashenda as part of our Kroger family,” corporate affairs manager Melissa Eads of the Kroger Nashville division told People.

“Her uplifting spirit is contagious. She has made such a positive impact on her fellow team members, and so many customers as well. We are so proud to have her as an associate.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking