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CHICAGO- If you unexpectedly lost your partner to gun violence, leaving you a widow with five young children, all girls, what would you do? How would you cry when five innocent people have to be fed, clothed and schooled? How would you change your life to compensate for your partner’s loss of income so that you could support your family on your own? Where would you find the strength to continue in a world that can sometimes feel cold because it never stops spinning for anyone?
Tanya Wells has found her calling and, 15 years later, has become an accomplished nurse who is a proud mother to her daughters. She joined her pastor, Corey Brooks, on the 56th day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to raise funds to build a building for his community center Project HOOD focused on neighborhood transformation.
“I want to step in and share your journey…You have been such a blessing to everything we do,” the pastor said. “You are a successful nurse now, but (there is) more to the story than that. Your husband was tragically shot and killed about… how many years ago?”
“September 2, 2007,” Wells began. “I was at church and got a call telling me to come to the A&R Leaks funeral home. When I got to the funeral home, I noticed the police and everyone everywhere. And I found out that my husband was shot and killed in his vehicle.”
“How many times has he been shot?” asked the pastor.
“He was shot seven times,” Wells replied.
ROOFTOP REVELATIONS: SUPPORTERS ACROSS THE WORLD SEND WISHES TO PASTOR’S WAY ON HIS BIRTHDAY
“Seven times. He was shot by a bunch of guys who we later found out were part of a team that was robbing and killing people all over Chicago. And they’ve since been convicted and now in federal prison “, said the pastor.
“I had five daughters who were left without a father,” Wells said as the memories flooded back to her. “I’m a very strong woman, and I’ve always wanted to set a goal for my kids. So I kept praying, that was number one, because you just have to think about raising five daughters without a father in -“
“In Chicago,” the pastor interjected.
“Chicago’s south side. So they all…” Wells struggled for words. “One had an attitude that day, one acted that week, the next week another acted. There were many times when I had to leave work to go to school. school because my daughter was angry… She was in so much pain because of her father’s death.”
The family grew from a loving father who provided for this insane void. Wells knew she couldn’t face it all on her own and she reached out.
“With the help of New Beginnings Church, Pastor Brooks and Project HOOD, I had to get counseling for my children and myself,” Wells said. “I won’t give up. I couldn’t give up because I have five young women watching me.”
“They needed an example,” the pastor added. “You work full time, you have to do everything a parent has to do for five girls, but you’ve found the time. found the time to go back to school.”
“I went back to school because I had a goal, and my goal was always to want to be a nurse,” Wells explained. “No matter what you’re going through in life, you can always be whoever you choose to be. So one day I just said, ‘You know what? I’m going back to school.’ And thank God I was able to go to school for an hour while my children were in school and still working.”
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She continued, “I had to be the example because my daughter didn’t have the father, the example of a man. So I had to step in and be this powerful example of a woman and encourage my daughters to what nothing – don’t let anything or anything stop you.”
She first earned her associate degree. Then she got her baccalaureate, realizing her dream of becoming a nurse. But what mattered most to her was that all of her daughters overcame their own inner struggles to graduate from high school on time.
“They didn’t become a statistic on the street because of all the violence in Chicago because of a strong wife and strong mother,” Wells said.
The pastor often faces many tragedies due to his calling in life and it lifts his spirits when he sees a well rising from the ashes. He invited her to help mentor young girls at the Project HOOD community center.
“That’s really what your gift is,” the pastor said.
“I can’t wait,” Tanya replied.
As they kissed, one wonders how many of Wells’ patients in the hospital, dealing with their own medical issues right now, realize the nature of the person caring for them. If they knew, no doubt they would draw their strength from his story.
Follow as Fox News checks in on Pastor Corey Brooks with a new one every day rooftop revelation.
For more information, please visit CAPOT project
Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.
Camera by Terrell Allen.