Full Circle


Shanelle Gayden was pregnant and evicted.  She moved into her mother's home with her young sons feeling completely defeated.  As if being evicted wasn’t horrible enough, she was struck with grief when her father suddenly passed away.  Shanelle made the decision to look for additional support for her and her children.  In 2009 Shanelle and her three sons moved into BARN Community Housing.  Shanelle was immediately encouraged and provided with guidance by her Program Manager, Fadumo Ahmed.  She learned that the key to her future was secure employment.  With secure employment, she would be able to do well financially.  Financial stability would mean a brighter future for her family.  

When I moved into Barn my life changed. It allowed me to pause and rethink choices as well as relationships. It challenged me to think higher of myself and my purpose. Even when thoughts of defeat came I became more resilient.

Fadumo scheduled her for classes that would support her growth.  She supported Shanelle’s education and career.  She encouraged her through the entire process and in 6 short months, Shanelle was moving out of BARN to start a new life with her children.

Shanelle realized that her experiences, although difficult, may have catapulted her to realize her purpose.  She began building a mentorship organization and became a community advocate in 2010.  She is now a Family Case Specialist for The Virginia Families, Fatherhood Initiative.  She teaches classes to create “stronger parents with a brighter future.”  Her story has truly come full circle- from needing assistance to providing it.

There is no greater honor than impacting your community in a positive way. When I close my eyes at night I am so grateful to live a life to inspire others. Through it all I educate my boys and they carry the same spirit. It just doesn’t get better than that!

Her oldest son, a high school quarterback, is now a senior in high school and was offered an athletic scholarship to West Liberty University.  His younger brothers hope to follow in his footsteps.

BARN is so proud of Shanelle and the life she has created for herself and her sons.  If you would like to learn more about her path, her book “My Poetic Journey” is available for purchase on Amazon.           


“Come and take a ride on My Poetic Journey. This journey will inspire you, encourage you, and bring light to the journey you are now traveling. It is not about how you start, it is about how you finish. Finish strong!” – Shanelle Gayden

 Blog Written by: Bond Cavazos, BARN Community Housing, Community Resources Coordinator