NewsPinellas County


Once a mother experiencing homeless, local woman gives back to Pinellas nonprofit that helped her

Jonita Lewis Robert Boyd WFTS.png
Posted at 8:20 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 17:01:10-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A Tampa Bay woman is retracing her roots back to when life was anything but easy. She was homeless and trying to raise a family on her own when a local nonprofit came to the rescue. Now, she's doing the rescuing.

Room 207. Jonita Lewis still remembers the number as she looks back at her time living at Grace House more than a decade ago.

"Young mother, pregnant at the time, just struggling and going through some hardships, unemployed and I found myself homeless and reached out to the Grace House and they had availability," said Lewis.

Lewis returned to Grace House but not as a resident, as a leader. She's the Vice President of Community Affairs and Assistant to the President for Hope Villages of America, which oversees Grace House.

"Being in the trenches and going through hardships — it made me want to get into that field to be able to help and inspire others who are living in this situation," said Lewis.

Lewis said Grace House provided her the support and resources to graduate college and live independently. Now she's delivering that same motivation to families living at Grace House today.

Knowing that she was once in their shoes, Lewis believes it goes a long way to establish trust and understanding with their clients.

"They see somebody who looks like them in a position of leadership and power," said Lewis. "It feels good to be able to give back and work for the organization that once helped me and my family when we were in a time of need."