Allison Hunter filled out the housing application for a small efficiency apartment on the campus at Texas Women’s University (TWU). She lied, writing down that her two small children would only be with her one weekend every month, but as soon as her application was approved, she and her kids moved into their new full-time home.
Enrolling in college was a testament to Allison’s grit and desire to better her family’s circumstances, despite what she’d lived through up to this point. However, her grit was about to run out. She was on the verge of quitting—a decision that would keep her family in poverty for years to come—but then she found out about Gateway’s Single Parents Grant Program.
Allison grew up in Houston, and when her parents split up, she moved to Dallas/Fort Worth to live with her father, which is when she met her first husband. “I was 18, and he was 16,” she says. “It was completely dysfunctional. He was a decent guy when he was sober, but he became an abusive drug addict.” She took her daughter and moved on, meeting another man and becoming pregnant with a son along the way. The relationship didn’t work out, but she married another man—a good guy, considering the men she’d been with—but soon after, their marriage fell apart. Destitute and homeless, Allison believed there had to be a better life out there.
“I identified myself through my relationships with men, and my life was chaotic,” she says. “There were a couple of times I had to live in a car while I looked for a place to live.” She found Section 8 housing in Watauga, but after a few months, a drive-by shooting had her looking for other options. That’s when she found the apartment at TWU, where she was attending school. As she studied to earn her nursing degree, she worked sporadic hours as a home healthcare nurse. Though she made some money, it wasn’t enough. “I would make a box of hamburger helper and feed the kids for a few nights,” she says.
But when groceries were scarce, she called 211, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission helpline, which directed her to resources for those living in poverty. They are especially helpful for single parents. During one phone call, she learned Gateway had a weekly dinner for single parent families. When they got there, she couldn’t believe what she saw. “They had real food!” she says. “Not just expired food.” She and her kids returned every week for a few months, and she met Pastor Samantha Golden who oversaw Gateway Single Parents.
She confided in Samantha that after 10 years in school, and only one semester left to go, she was ready to throw in the towel and find a job so she could pay her bills. “I was just done,” she says. “My car was about to be repossessed, and I was tired of living in that tiny apartment at TWU. I was sacrificing time with my kids.” Samantha set up a meeting with her and when Allison arrived, she expected to be scolded for her decision to quit.
But instead, Samantha offered her unexpected hope and grace in the form of a grant that would help her finish school. Not only that, Gateway helped Allison find a better housing situation, helped with food and utilities, and when her car was repossessed, Gateway’s car donation ministry provided her with a van. “It was amazing because I didn’t know people would come alongside me like this,” she says.
“They absolutely saved my life.” Hope was a luxury she didn’t have, but through the grant program, she gave her life to the Lord.
Allison graduated, received her teaching certificate, and taught for five years before she earned her master’s degree and became a school counselor for three years. Now, she’s using her same grit to take on a new venture. She’s working on her doctorate degree at Texas Christian University with a full scholarship. In addition, she’s on the board for the Single Parents Grant Program, teaches an Equip class, and is celebrating 10 years of marriage with her husband, Tracey, this year.
“It’s a miracle how God has restored my life,” she says. “When I teach my Equip class, my message is always that God is faithful in every season. It’s not always going to look how we want it to, but we can trust Him.”