Mother of six gets 2nd chance for success

Dress for Success and Wal-Mart team up for single moms

Ashley Montgomery | 10/10/2013, 9 a.m.
Wal-Mart serves as a mecca for all things needed for home, work or play. But what many may not know ...
Dr. Karent Sierra and LaTonya Bell

Wal-Mart serves as a mecca for all things needed for home, work or play. But what many may not know is that Wal-Mart is also the source for one single mother of six getting off the streets. Once homeless with no job and no family to turn to, LaTonya Bell was blessed with an unforgettable experience.  

The 34-year-old Georgia native didn’t know where to turn when her friend announced to her that she would be moving out of the studio apartment that she and her six children were calling home. Bell’s mother had been murdered years earlier, so she took it upon herself to move to Miami at the spur of the moment.

“I was just tired of everything and I wanted a new start,” she said.

That was in November 2012, when Bell, along with her children ranging in age from two to 18, came to South Florida in hopes of a better life. She hoped to escape a slew of troubles, including a physically abusive boyfriend.

The first of many blessings came pouring in when her case manager at the homeless shelter in which she and her children were living told her that the producers from the television show, “The Doctors,” were in search of a female candidate to appear on the show to receive a smile makeover by Dr. Karent Sierra, a regular on the Housewives of Miami.

“I felt that jobs never called me back because once I opened my mouth to speak, they were judging me,” Bell said. “I would never get a call back.”

Several months later, one of the producers reached out to Sonia Jacobson, the founder and executive director of Dress for Success Miami.

More blessings to come

Next, Bell learned that Wal-Mart had teamed up with Dress for Success Miami to provide her with a professional makeover. Through the partnership, Dress for Success Miami was able to connect LaTonya with a job opportunity at the Goulds location. 

“She was a lovely woman that was very determined to find a job to help provide for her children,” Jacobson said.

“She was having a very hard time and I wanted to serve as her guide.”

Today Bell lives in her own apartment and has a full-time position at Wal-Mart.

“I’m a firm believer in God and I knew that things would work out.”