Former homeless student repays her old ‘house’


Photo courtesy of Sommer Shaw

Donations pile up for Sommer Shaw’s clothing drive.

A San Jacinto College student, who was once a resident of a local homeless shelter, is organizing a clothing drive to benefit the place that helped her when she was in need.

Sommer Shaw is two semesters away from completing the Registered Nursing (RN) program at Central campus, but she said she wasn’t always as lucky as she is now.

In 2003, Shaw said she underwent major surgery to remove six inches of her brain in response to injuries sustained from child neglect.

Five years later, the now mother of three said she found herself at Sarah’s House, a homeless shelter for battered and abused women in Pasadena.

Pregnant with her first child, broke and trying to get away from an abusive relationship, Shaw said she turned to Sarah’s House for help.

“I lost my parents, had no money, and I was five months pregnant with my first child at the time. I had nowhere to go, and no one to turn to,” Shaw said.

She is not sure where she would be today without the help of Sarah’s House, Shaw said.

“Living at a women’s shelter allowed me the chance to get back on my feet. Just having a clean pair of clothes to put on was a great feeling,” she said.

Overcoming adversity and grateful for the help she received, Shaw said she decided to hold a clothing drive to aid Sarah’s House.

“These women and children come into the shelter with little to nothing in their possession,” Shaw said. “These women are down on their luck, they have no other options.”

She said she developed a strong passion to help abused women and children after going through the same struggles herself.

Shaw is encouraging students and faculty members to get involved in helping Sarah’s House by volunteering to help with the clothing drive, or by making donations.

“If you have women and/or children’s clothing, toys – no stuffed animals, household items, shoes, etc., anything that can be donated to this cause, please do so. These women and children have nothing to their name,” Shaw said.

The drive will continue through Thanksgiving and is seeing a lot of success up until now Shaw said.

“San Jac students have really come together to help out a shelter in need. So far, 25 bags have been donated. I am very excited at the amount of stuff I have received, and really look forward to reactions from the women at the shelter,” Shaw said.

Clothing donations can be made at the Student Success Center on Central campus, or by contacting Sommer Shaw at [email protected].