Tanisha’s Tale of Resilience, Family, and Determination

Tanisha saves lives in her hometown, Detroit, Michigan. The single mom of four works full-time as a phlebotomist where she finds veins, sticks tiny needles in to draw blood, and then sends the blood to a processing center where it’s used to create medicine.

“I guess I found my calling because I was so resistant to it at first, but now I’m here—I’ve been here five years now,” said Tanisha, who landed the job after networking with a woman in her biology class at Wayne County Community College. “I became certified because I want to be able to teach my own phlebotomy classes in the near future.”

The future is important to Tanisha, who participates in the Building Peace UpTogether Fund—a partnership with FORCE Detroit that invests direct cash in local individuals and families in the Detroit area. She’s already using the monthly funds toward dreams and important milestones.

“I got my certification for phlebotomy and I was able to buy my 16-year-old her first car for her birthday,” shared an excited Tanisha. “I’m also working towards a down payment on a house. I haven’t found one yet, but I’m saving for the down payments, so it’s giving me a great push.”

While Tanisha pushes toward major goals, she’s often reminded of the challenges she had to push through, especially in recent years. 

“We experienced quite a few deaths in the family that were really, really close to home. It was my sister first, then my dad, then my brother, and then my mom all last year,” said Tanisha. “I have to be here for my little ones and keep pushing for the sakes of all those [family members] that passed.”

As she remembers the lives of Latima Warren, Anthony Hightower, Anthony Warren, and Sherita Warren—her sister, father, brother, and mother who passed in a heartbreaking 2023, Tanisha refuses to let her circumstances limit her optimism. Tanisha’s financial hardship, like many others across the country, is not because of bad choices.

“Their father passed in 2014, so I haven’t had the help. I’m just on go all the time and I need two of me,” said Tanisha. “I have four children ages 17, 16, 10 and 8. I’m a single mom doing what I can to create a situation for each one of my kids so that they could be able to be prosperous in the future.”

Her plan includes supporting her kids’ pursuits of entrepreneurship.

“My daughter braids hair—she does dreads and braids. I’m actually trying to start her up her own little business,” said Tanisha. “She does kids’ hair and a lot of my coworkers’ hair. One day maybe we can do a back-to-school event and kids can come get their hair done for free. And with my son, I’m trying to get him to learn to cut [hair] so we can go ahead and shoot off in a family business.”

As a single mom, Tanisha rises to the daily demands of working long hours and multiple jobs to pay the bills.  

“I work at the [Blood] Center, but I also do Doordash. I have a pickup truck and do work in my pickup truck. I do whatever I can,” explained Tanisha. “The key is for me to get up out of this situation because the houses here are $1,300 for rent in rundown Brightmoor [neighborhood]. We are working against the grain—I feel like you gotta work double time.”

Brightmoor is just one of the overlooked areas in Detroit that once flourished but now are decorated with empty buildings and crime. It’s a big contrast from Tanisha’s childhood filled with fun memories of going outside and playing until the streetlights came on without a worry. 

“I let my kids go outside and they play with friends, but at the end of the day, it’s a limit. I need to know everything about everybody,” said Tanisha before pointing out that the current landscape includes violence, kidnappings, social media and many more pitfalls. “We as parents gotta play our part in knowing more—you have to be involved in your kid’s social life as well. My advice is to hold on to your kids as long as you possibly can, and keep them in whatever sports or extracurricular activities they have.”

Tanisha isn’t shy about acknowledging the differences between opportunities and access in Detroit’s west side, and elsewhere.

“A lot of the schools here in Detroit don’t even have music. They’re taking all of the recreational centers for the kids so you basically have to create for your kids. In the suburbs, they still have these classes and extracurricular activities,” said Tanisha. “Our situations of where we are shouldn’t determine what the kids are able to have access to in any shape, fashion or form.”

The roadblocks and barriers in place that seemingly keep some communities from thriving is a frustration that Tanisha feels should be addressed. She knows her community gets many negative labels and she’s fighting to change the narrative.

“I think we all want more for ourselves, but it’s just what is in place for us to be able to get to the next step. You can’t walk upstairs when there are stairs missing,” said Tanisha. “We can’t get to the top if you don’t have the help and we weren’t born with the help. It’s not that we’re incapable.”

Though Tanisha finds some stability with public assistance in the form of food stamps, she admits the extensive reporting requirements create hurdles and challenges. Still, she navigates the system for the sake of her family.

“The food stamps help a lot. [And] it’s so much that you have to do—all this information. They want this and that from you every six months, you know, just to be able to feed your family,” said Tanisha. “You know they already hiked up the price of food and in order to feed them you have to report all of your information. They want everything from the roota to the toota—they want all of your business just to be able to feed your family.”

When she isn’t working or spending time with her children, Tanisha finds herself reflecting on life’s unpredictable ways. Choosing faith instead of bitterness, she allows strength and resilience to pump through her veins.

“I mean Life just be ‘life-ing’ and you can’t place any blame on any certain part. What you’re dealt with isn’t really your decision; that’s up to God. It’s just how you work through it—that is what you’re responsible for.”

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