A Mother And Daughter Reflect On Over 2 Years Of Homelessness When Sandy Baker left her marriage, she and her daughter moved into a hotel. They were homeless for over 2 years, and that, they said, left them with what mattered: Those who loved them the most.

A Mother And Daughter On Homelessness, Humility And A $6-A-Week Grocery Budget

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Now time for StoryCorps. Ten years ago, Sandy Baker left her troubled marriage, scraped together what money she could and checked into a motel with her teenage daughter, Ashley. They were homeless for the next 2 1/2 years. Recently, they came to a StoryCorps booth in Dallas to talk about that time.

SANDY BAKER: One of the first places that we lived was a InTown Suites hotel, and there was nothing sweet about it.

ASHLEY BAKER: (Laughter).

S BAKER: It was crazy bad.

A BAKER: I woke up the next day, and it was my 16th birthday. And, you know, I really tried to make the best of it.

S BAKER: Our food budget was about $12 every two weeks. And I remember seeing your spine and...

A BAKER: My ribs.

S BAKER: ...And your ribs. And twice a day, Sam's Club and Costco would have samples. And so we would get a shopping cart, and we would pretend like we were shoppers.

A BAKER: Shopping.

S BAKER: And we would go anywhere from three to five times a week.

A BAKER: And I would get dirty looks.

S BAKER: Yeah.

A BAKER: Like, why are you coming back? You already had some.

School was rough. My parents were divorced. I was homeless. Everything just came crashing down. I wanted to die.

S BAKER: Yeah. We'd stayed in the hotel for about nine months, but we ended up living in a tent. And trying to put up the tent that first night...

A BAKER: The ground was hard as concrete. Trying to put it up...

S BAKER: Trying to drive those stakes in the ground...

A BAKER: It's just getting later and later. I said, mama, I could sleep in the car if I had to. And you went, no. We are doing this.

S BAKER: We are doing this. I felt like this was not going to be my moment that I failed. I was going to provide shelter for you that night, and we were going to get it done. And the rest we would figure out. And we did.

A BAKER: I can't believe that we've made it through - what? - 10 years later. It's definitely humbled me.

S BAKER: When everything's taken away from you, what you're left with is...

A BAKER: What really matters.

S BAKER: ...What you need. What really matters.

A BAKER: The people that love us the most.


MARTIN: That was Ashley Baker talking with her mother, Sandy Baker, in Dallas, Texas. Ashley and Sandy now have their own apartment. This year, Ashley graduated from college, and Sandy now works to provide housing for others in need. And if you're spending time with loved ones this Thanksgiving weekend, don't forget to record a family conversation using the StoryCorps app. Details are at thegreatlisten.org.

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