Former Homeless Family Offers Three Homes to Survivors of Katrina

Published: Sat Sep 03 2005

CHICAGO – Toni Shelton knows the challenges of being homeless with children, and now that she has found success in her life she is opening her three homes to refugees from Hurricane Katrina.

"I’ve been in a homeless situation myself with my children, so every time I see what is happening to so many people it makes me cry," said Shelton. "I just kept asking God what can I do to help, and the answer came back that I should open my homes that I’ve been blessed with."

Shelton, a fashion model and modeling consultant, is the author of a book on how to become a model called "Rising Star." She has two homes in Chicago and one in Los Angeles. She is willing to allow complete strangers to move in with her and her children, and to let people she does not know move into her other two homes as well.

"I don’t want money. I just want to help. These people have lost everything and need a way to get their lives back together. I have houses that have plenty of empty rooms," said Shelton.

She is getting help from Chicago’s Channel 2 News. They showed her homes on television and made her offer of help known to the Red Cross and other agencies that are helping people. Now national news organizations have joined in the effort to find people to fill those empty rooms.

Airlines are providing free transportation to people left homeless by Katrina, as long as they have a verified place to go. Shelton’s offer will make that possible for about 20 people.

"I’d rather do this than donate money. I want to do the most good I can, and God has blessed me so now I can bless others," said Shelton.

Shelton did what she had to do as a single mother of four children, including work on the back of a garbage truck for a time. Her goal of success as a model has always been her driving force and kept her going through thick and thin. She has turned her life around, going from homeless to philanthropist.

Shelton’s many efforts to give back to her community won her the "2001 Women Who Make A Difference Award" presented by the Make a Difference Youth Foundation. She never gives up, and she never allows the challenges of life to stop her pursuit of her goals and aspirations for herself and her children.

"Rising Star" (ISBN 1-4134-6235-9, Xlibris) breaks down every aspect of the modeling business and offers readers an overview of the industry, as well as a realistic method to assess the characteristics needed to succeed.

All four of her children are working models appearing in national print ads. Her son Dave Dylan is featured in a dynamic portrait on the cover of the book. At just 18, Dylan has a promising career in front of him and is an example of the rising stars Shelton writes about. Dylan has been in many national advertising campaigns, and he is also gaining attention as an actor and rapper.

More information about Shelton and her book "Rising Star" can be found at Photos are also available at the site.

Toni Shelton

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