Raunise came from a large family with 9 siblings. Her father had been absent from an early age but her mother took leave during Raunise’s 6th grade year. It was then that she began to bear a weight that for years she carried. Raunise felt a strong responsibility for her siblings and began to care for them. She got them ready, got them off to school and began working. She took care of the home and prepared meals for the family, not addressing her own education. It was only in adulthood that she took her education into her own hands, getting her GED in 2009, after her daughter was born.
Raunise had her daughter, Ternise, and married young. Trial and struggle was not just something of childhood. Raunise lost her second child. She started post-secondary education but did not get to complete it because of family demands. She continued to take in and care for nieces and nephews as extended family met their own obstacles. Raunise’s marriage met difficulty as her husband didn’t work and support them consistently.
Ternise, Raunise’s daughter, had been monitored since birth for an abnormal heartbeat and doctors performed their first open heart surgery on her when she was 5 years old. During this surgery, damage was done to the aortic valve. Raunise lost her job for missing too many days due to her daughter’s illness and struggling recovery from surgery.
Raunise’s marriage continued to struggle through the family turmoil of supporting an ill child. Marital separation became a reality and Raunise continued to try to provide. In 2014, everything came to a head. A niece had come to live with them because of her mother’s struggles. Ternise was back in the hospital for surgery, causing Raunise to miss more work. An eviction notice came from their landlord. Ternise was sent home too early and warning signs came quickly: fever, chest pain, lethargy. Raunise took her daughter back in to find out that blood clots were present and another surgery was necessary.
Raunise moved her things to her mom’s home, working to settle payments with her landlord. Her sister, a graduate of Hillcrest Hope, referred her to the program. Raunise applied and remembers receiving the call from Hillcrest Hope to join the program on her birthday.
“I didn’t have a job and was worried. Yet, God was showing me something. I had put my faith in too many other things: jobs, husband, myself. I needed to trust in Him.”
She landed temporary work to get any hours she could until she was offered a job with First Student as a bus driver. About to begin that employment, Raunise got a call from Quest Diagnostics. With her background in prescription solutions, this seemed like a better fit and she graciously thanked First Student.
At Hillcrest Hope, Raunise felt a new sense of stability. She was able to address all the things that had been piling up and pieces began to fall into place. Yet, Ternise still had bouts of sickness, causing her to miss school and for Raunise to miss more work. Because of their stay at Hillcrest Hope, Ternise never had to change schools. Her nurse, principal and so many other were aware of her needs and condition. They were both patient and prepared to support this family. A few general concerns led up to a final significant event at school with Ternise suffering loss of sight and convulsions. Raunise met her at the hospital and learned that there was now bleeding on the brain. Raunise felt the story repeating itself as her employer gave her warnings and put her on probation for missing days.
Thankfully, at this point in their story, the doctors were able to create an effective treatment plan. Ternise found reprieve from many of the health struggles. Raunise sought out First Student again and landed employment right away.
“We were given the patience and grace to stay 4 months at Hillcrest Hope, a bit more than other families. We saved $4,000, paid off debts, and felt confident walking into our future. I had to learn that I couldn’t do it all. There were plenty of years that I had made money and paid my bills but my marriage still came apart and my daughter still got sick. I had to learn to depend on God. Through all this, I learned to be ultimately grateful.”
Raunise didn’t imagine life to look the way it does now but it is the life that she loves. She lives apart from her husband yet still remembers that love is patient and kind until the very end. “Sometimes making things better and growing through trials means growing away from someone but I will continue to extend every grace I can,” Raunise shares. She is incredibly happy with her job driving a bus, blessing and sharing her joy with kids.
Raunise shares that she now takes things one day at a time, seeing what God has in store for her and her daughter. They spend time with extended family through family nights, barbecues, and supporting one another’s kids’ sports activities. Raunise has begun to develop her own natural hair and beauty products and dreams of expanding this talent into a business one day.
Today, Raunise is joyful and their life is full of blessings. Ternise remains stable and blossoms despite some physical restrictions. She is on the principal’s honor roll, loves to draw and create her own art. Ternise has also taken the opportunity to work with other kids with special needs in gym classes because of her own physical limitations.
“God restored us. I am here to encourage others, to let them know that no matter what you might be going through or what you may walk through one day, your fix and your solutions are never enough. Depend on the Lord and He will take care of you.”
Raunise’s story is one of faith, gratitude, and ultimate hope. Consider giving to Hillcrest Hope to provide for more families the opportunity to re-write their story into one of hope.