Born in Wichita in 1964, Lawanna experienced a conventional childhood before becoming the victim of a sexual assault at the age of 11. After that, she says, "Life went downhill." Lawanna slipped into drug use, droppedout of schooland ended up going to prison three times. Her criminal record rendered her virtually unemployable, and vividly recalls showing up for one of the very few call-backs she received after applying for a job only to be told that the interview was cancelled because "HR made a mistake. We can't interview felons."
Committed to turning around her life, Lawanna completed a treatment program administered by a Drug Court in Wichita and in 2010 moved to Lawrence, where she has been clean and sober for almost four years. She met Sun cedar CEO Shine Adams at panel on homelessness at the University of Kansas. In addition to working for Sun Cedar, she occasionally volunteers at Lawrence Community Shelter and works as an administrative assistant at Headquarters Crisis Counseling Center.
Now, Lawanna says, she's focused on her future. "I want to continue the path that I'm on. I want to keep helping other people, the less fortunate."