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May 2, 2017

Ladies!! I am two months in to the Kickass Single Mom project (I grant $1,000 monthly to a mom who is doing incredible things — whether in business, community service, her family, politics, the arts ... essentially a mom who is awesome and inspires me). I am honored to have received more than 1,600 applicants, heard so many amazing stories from 1,600+ gorgeous moms, I have to tell you — I'M OVERWHELMED! Talk about Sophie's Choice ...

This month's winner jumped out with her candor, remarkable story, and positive attitude. She wrote:

My name is Shawnta Creech and I'm a kick*ss mommy! In 2009, I was a homeless mother of two, living in the one of the worst shelters in Washington, D.C. That year, after being homeless and not receiving proper treatment for severe asthma, I went into complete respiratory failure and underwent emergency tracheostomy surgery. Doctors told me I would be in the hospital for six months before they even began to consider taking me off life support... but this momma is a fighter. I had to get back to my babies. After only ONE month, I was released from Washington Hospital, and I have been fighting ever since.

With God at the head of my life, and my support system by my side (my daughters), I have managed to pursue my dreams of becoming a chef, and will successfully complete the culinary arts program at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School here in DC. Serving and blessing people through food is a true passion of mine. I have a following of people who have fallen in love with a delicious chipotle salad dressing/marinade that I have developed. Even my chef instructor and his chef wife who co-own a successful delicatessen are in love this my dressing. He truly believes in me and has suggested that I look into getting my dressing bottled and in production, as well as granted me use of the school's commercial kitchen for production.

My goal is to see my dressing in stores. I would use this blessing to apply for the necessary trademarks, and licensing from D.C. Then, if there was anything left over, I would take my babies out for a "fancy" meal. Those two little princesses have had to sacrifice sooo much because of my health issues, and they never complain. I don't have the monetary funds to buy them the newest or the most expensive things, but they genuinely appreciate what they have. They are my BIGGEST cheerleaders, this legacy I am building is for them. The day the doctors had to give me this trach, it was their little faces I saw, it was them that I held onto. They believe in me, and I know that this dressing is our ticket to a better life.

BAM! You get $1,000!

Have a listen to the podcast interview in which Shawnta tells me about how she went from a middle-class government worker, to homeless single mom of two babies, first living with relatives, then in shelters, for years before her near-death health crisis snapped her into action to making a better life for her family. Today Shawnta and her daughters live in safe apartment, she will graduate with her culinary degree next month, scoring 97 percent and higher on all tests, and missing only one day of class. I love how she speaks so passionately about the people along her journey who supported her in small and large ways, and most especially about how passionately and lovingly she speaks about FOOD!

I asked her by email to share about her kids. This is what she wrote:

Niya, 12, is so creative and helpful. Her confidence is amazing! I can remember being so insecure in middle school, especially 7th grade, but not her. Unlike most girls her age, she actually acts like a 12 year old, lol. She isn't into being grown or acting "fast," as we call it. She loves writing music, she wants to learn piano, loves creating fashionable clothes for her dolls. She likes Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Princess movies and she will read almost any novel she can get her hands on. She is doing great... thriving. She's a tough cookie, a kickbutt kid.

Kira, 11, is my outspoken songbird. She has the most amazing singing voice. Her teacher overheard her singing and suggested she tryout for the upcoming talent show. She did, and yesterday we found out she made it! She is such a sweetheart, and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She is so caring, even those "$0.40 a day can save a child" commercials can sometimes bring her to tears. At the same time, she is so spunky. She loves STEM, and Legos are LIFE for her. My love for cooking has rubbed off on her also, she aspires to be a chef/singer/veterinarian/meteorologist, lol. She's doing great, full of life. She too is a tough cookie, a kickbutt kid :)

In the application, Shawnta said she "would ultimately like to open a restaurant where I can offer meaningful internships to young culinarians, helping the future generations of chefs get their foot in the door."

In the application, Shawnta said she "would ultimately like to open a restaurant where I can offer meaningful internships to young culinarians, helping the future generations of chefs get their foot in the door."


You can see some of her amazing culinary creations on her Instagram feed, or her website for Gifted Hands Catering. 
Interested? Apply for the Kickass Single Mom Grant. 
Learn about Kickass Single Mom Grant winner Jennifer Little, founder of the Little Hands Book Bank in Texas.