EAP 11: Melissa Calixte – Homeless, Humbled, and Hopeful – How She Triumphed
Our guest on this episode of the Early Accountability Podcast is Melissa Calixte. Melissa has gone through quite a journey to arrive in Atlanta working with the homeless population, but she would be the first to tell you that God has guided her every step of the way and provided for her in every area of her life. After going through a season of inconsistent employment in the Tallahassee area, Melissa felt led to move to Atlanta. Melissa faced significant hardship there, including a 2.5 year stint of homelessness and sleeping in her car and the loss of support from some of her family and friends who didn’t understand why she was staying in Atlanta during such hard times. But she persevered because she knew that God had led her to Atlanta.
Through all of her struggles, Melissa kept a journal of the specific things she was praying for, and now she can go back and read all of the ways that God came through for her. She is grateful and thankful for every day and for the opportunities that come her way, including this opportunity to work with the homeless population with the respect and dignity of someone who has been in their shoes. The lessons that Melissa has learned and is still learning are to be generous with what you have, to reflect on the past and move on, and to embrace the journey.
Topics Covered in this Episode:
- How Melissa’s faith got her through many hard times
- Melissa’s perseverance in finding the right job
- Ways that Melissa kept her spirit alive
Melissa is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She has worked with the undeserved population for over 12 years. She currently works with the homeless population in Atlanta GA. Melissa enjoys making a difference in the lives of those many have forgotten. When Melissa is not advocating she enjoys going to the art museum and spending time with her family.
Connect with Melissa:
Welcome to the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ hosted Kimi Walker. Kimi has a track record of serving as a behavior, change, and improvement catalyst for individuals, groups, and organizations. Get ready to make the best version of yourself a priority. Now welcome Kimi Walker.
Kimi: Kimi Walker here and welcome to the next episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’. I’m very privileged this evening to have Melissa Calixte with me. Hi Melissa!
Melissa: Hi, how are you? Thanks for having me.
Kimi: You’re welcome, hey girl. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to the audience? Just telling a little bit about yourself; where you’re from, what you do, a little bit about just your journey.
Melissa: Okay, sure. Yeah I’m from [inaudible] [00:54] Miami and … and I’ve lived there for almost ten in years and after leaving … living in Atlanta where I work with the homeless population. Definitely I’m grateful the fire that population … It’s interesting how I got there. I was once homeless. So that has a great way of using what you may think of as a setback as a set up for me to … about myself. I am … entrepreneur. My background is in education … as well as my master in … specialist. The reason for me going into … because I always wanted to help the … population. I felt as though the minority population … adequately within the education system.
At that time as there my internship is though it may not have been the best way for me to utilize my skills at that time to help that population. So and I moved to Mississippi where I was helping minority population in regards to the school to prison pipeline. Thereafter, I went to work for the state of Florida as a … helping… So that there was a great experience, but yet accounting. And so as you can see my journey of living up to a lot of service which I view in helping others. So upon me working in that field, what happened? I had a great job, but I got laid off from that particular job and thereafter continued to get laid off. Here I am really … my bio, trying to get a job, layoffs. And as I go from job interview to job interview is keep telling me that I am over qualified.
Melissa: So yes, so I had my last… the last straw was when I was making eight dollars an hour working at a retail store. And that was like I just knew I had to get out of that environment. And so I moved to Atlanta Georgia.
Kimi: from Tallahassee?
Melissa: Yes from Tallahassee Florida. Yeah, moved to Atlanta Georgia from Tallahassee Florida. And upon me moving things were going okay. Not the best, but it was better than making eight dollars an hour at a time. So some hardship still came my way and so where I basically fell into homelessness. And I literally found myself sleeping on coworkers’ couches that I’ve only known for maybe three to four months, sleeping in my car. It was definitely a journey that lasted for almost two and a half years. But I know a lot of people think at the time was I don’t know what’s gonna happen with her, she’s crazy, like please go ahead and move home. But my instinct or I felt as the Holy Spirit was saying just wait, just wait. I don’t know [inaudible] [04:18]
I waited two years, but in me in my spirit I just knew that I had to wait there. Something here in Atlanta for me to do. So upon me waiting [inaudible] having little to no money in my pocket. I had a decent job, but the job that I had was contract with a big contract work where I worked with underserved population serving … I’d be there for some time. But the company that I was working for, they didn’t pay me on time or they just didn’t pay me at all, and I did decide upon me moving to L.A. I did decide to still keep the retail job as a backup, but that was a little bit more secure than the contract job. So I’ve been chilly decided I want to go on to substitute picking because that was a little bit more concrete in the context of where I am my income fail will decrease quite a bit after leaving the contracting job.
But I still … I still continued to pray, continued going to church, whatever it is that I was … that’s what keep me going is making sure that my faith was intact and my mental ability was intact. I had to have some type of ability and my body was going through a lot of losing weight not really eating, but I just knew by this kept my mind going on a positive track or at least try to keep it positive in most as I could despite what was going on around me, that I would come out of it. Ones that kept going and then gracefully Jamie came into town. They had a great day and this gave me some great words of encouragement. And as long as is everyone to just find someone who will be in your corner no matter what.
Because yeah, you can talk positive talk all day every day, but when you have a person who has great intentions in your corner to do is let you know like hey, things are gonna workout, things are gonna be fine to share and they’re transparent with you in a way that you can find somebody who truly understands your plight and why and where you’re going is different for me at a time. It definitely helped me to get to where I am now. It helped me to push my faith further because I am not gonna allow as you know reverting back. Kind of losing it just a little. Like oh I don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s time for me to leave Atlanta. But I’m so thankful that she came at the right time, and I was into say, “Hold on, hold fast.”
Because I knew at some of the [inaudible] [07:07] felt that it was some service that I had to do here in Atlanta. So upon me deciding to stay in Atlanta. And within a few applications of time. And finally I got a phone call while I was at the … and I’m not even sure when or when I applied for this company. I still don’t think I applied … that I received this job. The company that I am or happens to be a non-profit agency who works with the homeless population. I just knew at that at time that okay God I knew this was gonna set me up for something great. I just didn’t know when it was gonna happen, but I just knew it was gonna be great.
So once I heard what the job entailed, I just knew in my spirit that that job was for me. Even though although I had already secured a job, but as a form of gonna be working with my friends I who on a test company. But that was only for four months. So I was still in the mode of I have to figure out what I’m gonna do. So once I received that phone call from my now employer; my current employer, I knew that it’s that job definitely wasn’t for me. God was gonna make a way for me to work this … Long story short, I had training for the tax job on like Friday. My job interview for my current employer was also on Friday. And so early that day my friend calls me. She’s like, “Hey girl, you know you can’t really come in for training today because something’s wrong with the computer.”
And then I knew like that okay, this is definitely divine. So because I say especially divine because my friend was from eleven to three. My job interview was at 3:30, and I had to find a way how I can manage to get from … Georgia to Atlanta Georgia. If you haven’t been to Atlanta you know traffic is crazy. Well that’s just in a city there next time is just heavy traffic. So I just prayed to God before my interview and my schedule training that day. I was like God I prayed this prayer just bring it on the way if this job is for me , let me know. So that’s why you should be very specific in what you’re praying. Believe there’s something’s gonna happen this you know … will make sense in future. And so when I received that phone call I have this praise them and thank God.
When I googled how far my current employer was located, it was only 15 minutes away. So I was able to arrive for my interview at least 15 minutes early. It was just a huge blessing and I’m so thankful since I’ve been currently working at my current work… since I’ve been currently working, I’ve received just favor. I’m so grateful for where I am. Being in the position of being homeless has allowed me to not be desensitized to my clients. So it allows me to hear them more clearly, to serve them in a manner that they probably have never experienced because they showed me all the time.
They always say, “Hey nobody has treated me in the way …” And the words come… A good feeling I mean like what I was going through. But a good thing to say hey I’ve know you come from, I know how you feel. I’ve been there. So just trust me in this process for me to help you to get along in your journey. And God just has a great way of just humbling you. Now I’m just thankful to just turn the key to my own apartment. I’m no longer sleeping on anyone’s couch, I have my own in the city downtown Atlanta because God has favored me with even where my current apartment is located and because I was obedient. Even though my parents, my family, friends were saying, “Hey why are you staying, you don’t need to stay there.”
Basically just point row they don’t… You know everybody had an opinion, but I had to decipher what was an opinion. It wasn’t just an opinion, or if they actually just care how they felt because I don’t love. Because at the time you may think this person or this person doesn’t get it or whatever the case maybe you feel at the time. Well you had to kind of see you were the … were coming from at first. Well my dad he’s from the Caribbean’s, so he’s… I want to say he’s very blunt with his words; very transparent. So at the time when I felt yes oh at times well now like wow! My dad is really giving me the business right now. But I’m like okay I had to step back away from myself and look at the bigger picture where he’s coming from.
Because I had a child. I have a son and I don’t want my child to be in a place where she’s comfortable, where she’s not hungry or where she is not sleeping with strangers on their couches. So even though he’s like you don’t need to stay there, what are you doing… in Altanta. You know I was like … trust me on this. I’m praying, God is gonna make a way. He don’t wanna hear about it. [Inaudible] [12:23] has something great. Something good is gonna come out of this because out of this I’m starting to see people who have left my side because I didn’t have the money that I once had or the sort of just energy that they would kind of… you know they was good for me because I was happy person. Now I’m kinda down and just out.
Nothing to really give as far as monetary or just on myself or have time to … trying to figure out how I’m gonna get my next meal … At the time it’s like wow! You know open up my eyes to see like you know I’m thankful that they left at this point in my journey. What we had was cool. It was great and it was definitely hard for me to lose some friends and family members. But God opened up a whole new network for me, a whole new family dynamic for me as a current. The people that have now in my life are definitely amazing. I’m learning new things about myself, growing better as a woman, and just allowing God to just use me in so many ways.
So it’s pretty exciting for me to see what the next day is gonna hold. Okay God, what else do you have for me? Who else are you placing in my life? I threw into the embrace it. At first it was hard, and I think once I let go, I’m able to see the beauty in the [inaudible] [13:45]. You know the beauty in that I was doing my journey. Yeah, I’m just thankful and at the time for me I know a lot of people say, “Well how did you deal with all of that?” Definitely prayer, reading a book.
Kimi: oh yeah
Melissa: Definitely reading a lot to keep my mind occupied even looking at anything that’s funny. Like I knew I had to keep my joy. So I would watch like… I’ll go on YouTube and watch episode of … my favorite show. I just had to keep them … before in my spirit. I just vowed to not let my spirit die because I knew if my spirit man died, then it was over. Like I would have literally been walking. Like walk the walk …like the shot on my show. But basically that’s how it’s been … But I knew that I had to keep my spirit alive, and I had to find different ways of doing it. This be creatively with it. And I’m telling you one who has are to me just to listen is my story now thank you guys … and to share this, stay in the race, have a concrete plan. …
That one how is now planned how a concrete idea of where you wanna go, where do you see yourself on my journal a lot. So journaling has definitely been very therapeutic for me. It’s writing down my feelings. I used to write down all the best of … what’s going on. But then it started to change. I started to write what was in the present tense of what I wanted to see, what was happening. Like I’m so thankful and pray for now that I live downtown and I have easy access to all the latest shops. And I’m so grateful, thankful for my apartment in it now. I’m so thankful and grateful that I’m able to pay every bill on time. And after I wrote everything that I wanted to see manifest, I kinda like okay God you know your …
So and everything that I listed definitely came to pass. And so that’s something. I’m just thankful to wake up in the morning quite a normal way. I even wrote that I had the best neighbors completely awesome; awesome. So this very detail of what you want. Be very specific on what you want. And for me another thing I learned like social media. Like I see a lot of people talk about so. Like everything that’s going on. I feel like everything that you write or type. When the social media … a lot of people are just typing away or want to and I want to be careful of that because you have to know that things are… they change in a minute. You don’t wanna delay the process and you wanna be careful of the conversation that you have of certain people.
You want to get whether it’s one person, two or three people or a person Army Day in pray with you, for you, understand your quiet and come to agreement at things will get better. And some of that is very honest because sometimes you may not see. So you see the bigger picture. So someone who’s definitely honest [inaudible] [16:52] criticism. They kinda make you see the decisions you are making at a time during your frustration period.
But I had to lose hold a lot of friends and family in the process.
I didn’t know it was gonna happen like that, but I asked for it. So now when I ask God for certain things in my life, I just you know I ask like I’m thankful and grateful that we transition me into a new job … get laid off or fired. And I’ve been speaking this for the whole year of 2017 … that’s going to position me in a new job before summer 2017. And that is exactly what happened. So I’m set to work as a mental health specialist at a major hospital in Atlanta. So where I don’t have to fired or laid off or any of that. And that is definitely… I have gracefully transition to where there is no chaos so I’m thankful that I was very specific to that in.
Melissa: So as they ought to say embrace a journey is easier said than done. Be thankful for it. Sit back, reflect on the process, journal, so that we can look back on how it builds you as a person in your growth. Because the journey is not for you, it’s for you to share your plight with someone else who just don’t know to go left or right. They made a I may not even know if to say hey let me call, let me watch a channel on YouTube. They don’t know. They may not know how to journey through what they’re going through so.
Melissa: Definitely just allow yourself to be used and to respect the process.
Kimi: Oh yeah, I think that’s great. I think that’s a multitude. Your journey is been amazing and very transformational. Even the parts that I have been. Nobody sees everything and I think it’s always important that we don’t really know what people are going through especially when there are definitely like very cheery happy people. Won’t may never know. Also I know you and your family are very giving people and just self-disclosure when I was out and didn’t you know have… and was trying to find a job after I finished grad school.
Your family really took me in and provided a place for me just as you all have for and you have for many, many, many other people. When you live your life like that, I think too one will think when you might be down and out, you have the multitude of people who are there for you to help you. When you found that not to be true or not to be a reality for you when you were going through your hardships, what did you learn from that, and how did you push through that?
Melissa: Well for me sometimes, I would come home… It was hard coming home and wanting to call that friend or family member up and say, “Hey, let’s hang out with you know.” You can’t really do that because of how things unravel. You’re my [inaudible] [20:22] down and out. So I just had to do just pray about it. I cried like maybe once a day about it because I felt like there was a loss like almost a death because these are some people that I’ve known for over 20 years. You know in some … in a crazy way he know what would happen. Like how could this situation here hold a way you know but it is made me reflect on kind of like … by situation or you see the red flags, but you can’t pretty much ignore them.
So there are times I just stopped crying and just I had reflect on a lot of situations that occurred in the past. Okay this happened, that happened. So trying to …everything you’re saying, you’re pretty much just felt ignore it. The one I came to … you know okay it was me, I decide … and I thank God that he … go on like. So after a while I had to start appreciating the people who are currently in my life because I felt like I would make … the new and in my life and I didn’t want that to falter. Because I was so worried about the path that I will neglecting been new in my life. The love, the joy, the peace that I hoped prayed about. And once I started embracing the new friendship, the new found family that I currently have the blessings is unraveled like I have would have never imagined.
So just for instance, I was talking to … and I was like, “Hey, I want to go on a vacation.” Not actually go somewhere. And maybe two days later my newfound best friend she called. And she’s like, “Hey girl … on a cruise. You wanna come?” So then I knew there was confirmation that I was at the right place at the right time in the right situation to meet people in my life and to … and I have not talked in a week time. But this are you know the refill them thing continue to build on our friendship and it’s even stronger now than ever. Because we both now have like hey girl, we’ve been through that. You know and we’re still in a process of continue to grow and to continue to embrace the journey of is great. Nothing bad, but it’s great. Embrace the journey that God has given us.
Melissa: And I’m still so thankful that the platform one thing of what a platform can be that if you are given so many women to share and their plight, and so that no one is sharing the story of oh yeah this is why I wasn’t. I’m here now. Like now there’s some in between stuff that [inaudible] [23:04] share and be their interested about. And say hey, we still have our moment. I still have my moments because I’m human. We have four different types of emotions there we go through on a daily basis. But that’s just why and we have to embrace them.
Like I’m number one a crown act or you know it’s okay. You know so, but I’m thankful that I’m in a space to where I can cry for a little bit and get over it and then go get this cup of ice-cream and watch my baby … And that’s just a blessing to do that like that’s… I have peace. I haven’t slept peacefully in probably over two and a half … peace which is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t trade it. So I’m just thankful to embrace the new and to let things go and let them lay where they may as they say.
Melissa: But and who knows maybe there are certain people in my life I don’t dislike them. I pray for them. I wish them well … with mild words or any of course. I’m gonna say I was mad before; I was. I was mad, but you know I didn’t ask God for forgiveness. Like hey, you put me here for a reason so who knows if they’ll come back and we’ll reunite or reconnect. If so great, or if not that’s fine too.
Kimi: Going to your peace with the situation.
Melissa: Yeah, I’m definitely at peace with it.
Kimi: I know this is new to you sharing this level or this angle in-depth in your story. But I know you have a great story that can empower many women. There’s a lot that you went through, and endured, and are overcoming that is very encouraging to some people who might… what you’ve been through, what you have been through, or might currently be where you were in the past. How could anybody like keep in contact with you, keep following your journey? How can they connect with you on social media?
Melissa: And they can definitely connect with me by I am Melissa Favored [inaudible] [25:04] M E L I S S favored F A V O R E D [inaudible] email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimi: Are you Melissa Favored or … twitter or …
Melissa: No, I am… I apologize. I am Melissa Favored on Instagram.
Kimi: Okay, okay got that one. So in that Melissa, what is your big mantra. What is your daily quote or phrase? What gets you through, what keeps you pushing forward?
Melissa: I am loved. Definitely gives me in my mind. I am loved, I am happy, I’m healthy, I am strong. The best then from one of my affirmations because sometimes you feel like am I … myself … me in so many different ways. So hey I’m here, I’ve got you. I am loved to from your mind I got my that every day. I’m strong, I’m healthy … my ups and downs … people get really sick in a hospital. So the main thing my health is definitely a blessing.
So … that. When I find … my mindset. I need overall health not just physically, but mentally as well … tell myself that I am healthy, I am strong, a champion. Though there are different ways that a not every day, but maybe once when it comes up … in the mirror before you know when I wake up. I just say thank you. I say thank you in the morning like this I show gratitude. God I thank you that I’m able to put gas in my car. I’m always in gratitude … the situation had occurred.
I’m always in gratitude, I’m always getting my foot like I’m catching myself giving gratitude to what I have. Like I’m so grateful that I’m able to put gas in my car and fill up the tank not half way. I’m thankful and grateful that I’m able to get my favorite mail, and my favorite restaurant. So, I’m always in gratitude for it. But some people may think oh okay whatever. No just like this is something that I haven’t experienced in a while; definitely staying in gratitude.
Kimi: Well thank you so much for your time and we look forward… I know there’s a lot of other things and projects you’ve worked on that you could really give a lot of gems about what people are trying to start a new projects, and new endeavors in their lives. So we definitely welcome you back on the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’. Thank you so much for your time Melissa and so next time.
Melissa: Yes, thank you for having me. Thank you very much for listening. Have a blessed, blessed 2018.
Kimi: Thank you bye, bye.
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