Karisha Coverdale

Karisha Coverdale of Wilmington poses at the Westin on the Wilmington Riverfront, where she works.

Second chances are important to Karisha Coverdale. If she didn't get one, she fears she'd still be homeless.

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"I didn't have no job; I didn't have no income. Me and my daughter, we were struggling day-by-day-by-day," she told WDEL.

The 41-year-old Wilmington woman had a roof over head, but it wasn't the same as having a home. For eight years, Coverdale and her young daughter Kiki lived with family members until one fateful day.

"When I was living with my sister, it was pouring down raining, she put me and my baby out for no reason. I didn't know where I was going to go, and my baby, she was only like nine months at the time," she said.

She went to live with her cousin, but that didn't last.  Then, she turned to the YWCA for help.

"The first day I entered the YWCA it was April 26 of 2016; so I never looked back once I entered the YWCA."

She did a few stints there, spending about 90 days; with a voucher in hand, she left for a motel only to return to the YWCA for another eight months.  When she left a second time, she was forced to spend time at another shelter, where she described horrid conditions.

"My case manager this time...she said, 'Karisha we're going to get you going, this is your third back at the YWCA, we have to get you started.' I went upstairs to the computer room, I filled out the application for a Quality Inn that's out in Newark, Delaware. They called me for a job,...it was June 17th of 2017, June 18th that's when I started my job."

Now, she works at the Westin Hotel on the Wilmington Riverfront as a housekeeper, and as everything started to fall into place, Karisha made a promise to her daughter.

"I was telling my baby, I said, 'Listen baby we're not out on the streets, we still have somewhere to go, but we're going to get our own house...you just got to have patience'...she said 'OK, mommy, OK.'"

Then, Coverdale got a phone call from her cousin about a letter that had come for her from the Newark Housing Authority.

"She gave me the letter December 12th of 2018, and that was the deadline that I had to call and make an appointment, so I'm like 'Oh my God, I'm at work'...they were like, 'I'm sorry Miss Coverdale, your deadline date was the 12th of December, so there's nothing I can do right now.' I was like 'oh my gosh.'"

The gravity of her situation and the weight of that moment, felt like a million bricks sitting on Coverdale's chest, she said. But she remembered the promise she made to her daughter and called the housing authority back again the next day.

"I told her my situation. I said 'I'm living in a shelter, I didn't have no mail coming there at the time, please can you just give me another chance?' She be like 'There's always a second chance.'"

About six weeks ago, Coverdale moved into her first house.

"Once we got out there, oh my God, I just dropped to my knees, and I was just like 'Oh my gosh, God gave me another chance, he gave me another chance,'" she said.

It was a bittersweet moment for her.

"I didn't wanna leave the Y though; I did not want to leave the Y; they were like 'You've got to go home, you have a home now.' I said I know I'm just going to miss ya'll."

But she quickly got excited the way everyone does when describing the first real place they call home.

"We all have an upstairs, when you walk in it's the living room, and we have our eat-in kitchen, then we have our pantry--oh my God to store all our canned goods, and the cereal. Oh my God, my daughter's so excited she's like 'Mommy, I want everything to be unicorn in my room.' I said baby you deserve it, you deserve it. Mommy gonna make sure I'm going to get you everything unicorn baby, cause she been through the struggle with me; my baby been through the struggle with me."

The YWCA taught her patience, the importance of paying her bills on time every month, and saving money. She didn't say this, but it was clear they'd also shown her the meaning of what it is to be grateful because without them:

"I don't know right now, oh my Gosh, I think I would've hit rock bottom...so the YWCA they helped me out so much, me and my baby, I love that place; I love it."

With keys in her hand, Karisha, again, made a promise to her daughter:

"I told her baby we're not going to be homeless no more, I promise you, we're not going to be homeless no more. I don't care if it's my last dime, we're going to pay these bills, this electric and our rent so we can make sure we have a roof over our head; we're never going to turn back no more, and I said never say never because anything could happen, but I promised my baby we would never be homeless no more."

Amy Cherry is the Assistant News Director and an investigative journalist at WDEL. She joined WDEL's award-winning news team in 2010 from WBZ Newsradio 1030 in Boston and has received national accolades for reporting.