Woman shares story of how Chattanooga Room in the Inn changed her life
Christine Dayoub had hit rock bottom when she walked through the doors at Chattanooga Room in the Inn.
The single mom had no home, no job, no money, no education, no transportation and no support.
“I had made so many back and forth movements that I had no success in my life. My family was pretty much done with me and I needed to find my own way,” said Dayoub.
Dayoub grew up in Miami and has a past with many bumps in the road.
One of the darkest days of her life was in 2016 when she and her three children were evicted from their home.
“I’d made some poor choices years back and they came back to haunt me and on that day I was taken into custody for a warrant that was outstanding in 2012,” said Dayoub.
Dayoub had unpaid court fees that she couldn’t afford.
She had to spend 60 days in jail. The worst part, said Dayoub, is that her three children became wards of the state. Her mother stepped in to adopt them.
When Dayoub was released from jail, a male friend invited her to move from Miami to Dalton to start a new life. She decided to go. Soon after, she became pregnant with his child.
“From the moment I got there it was abusive. Verbally, emotionally and physically. I was afraid but I had no place to go. I couldn’t go back to my mom because she had my children and I was in the middle of a dependency case,” said Dayoub.
She and her baby boy ended up in a domestic violence shelter in Dalton and someone there told her about Chattanooga Room in the Inn.
The 35 year-old woman calls it the best chance she’s ever taken.
“They told me to breathe. The allowed me to just sit still for a while,” said Dayoub.
The staff helped her turn her life around.
“I was asked what I wanted for myself and I said I wanted to be with my kids. She was like no, that’s amazing and that will come but what do you want for you? I said Ms. Casey I want to go to school. I didn’t have a GED when I got here and she said that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we’re going to start with,” said Dayoub.
Dayoub earned her GED but she didn’t stop there.
She’s now an electronic health records specialist and certified professional coder. The program normally takes 18 months to finish but Dayoub completed it in just six months.
She attended school five days a week and worked long days on the weekend to pay for her son’s childcare and save money.
For the first time since she was 17, Dayoub has a driver’s license. She bought herself a car. She has a job. She paid off her old court costs and has managed to save $5,000. Next month, she and her 18 month-old son, Junior, will move into a brand new apartment.
“I’m proud but most of all I’m grateful because this is a blessing and just as I’ve told some of the ladies that came in after me, don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed about this blessing,” said Dayoub.
While Chattanooga Room in the Inn is not a domestic violence shelter, many of the women who come there are victims of domestic abuse.
The shelter has been in Chattanooga for 30 years. It provides housing, case management, life skills and support to women who need help getting back on their feet.
The program lasts nine months for families and six months for single women.
Sometimes women choose not to go to a shelter because they can’t take their pets with them but that’s not a problem for women at Chattanooga Room in the Inn. It recently began accepting pets too.
“It gives me hope every day when I see women who are determined to get out of the circumstances they are in. They’ve come from backgrounds that none of us could even imagine,” said Executive Director Erin Creal.
Dayoub is looking forward to her new life.
“I want to stand on my own. I want to show other women that just because we came from a bad place that doesn’t mean we have to stay there,” said Dayoub.
She hopes to one day be able to give back to Chattanooga Room in the Inn and hopes that her story will inspire other women.
“My biggest blessing here was learning to love myself. I found home in me and I didn’t know that before. Sometimes you’ve got to leave everything you know to find out who you are,” said Dayoub.
She plans to stay in Chattanooga.
Click here to learn more about Chattanooga Room in the Inn.