A Charlottesville woman who spent more than 20 years homeless is heading to Capitol Hill to take part in a national discussion on chronic homelessness. Rebeckah Armistead earned a scholarship to attend the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.
Armistead has come a long way from sleeping in a car with her four kids packed in the home on four wheels.
"You would pull up in a park or pull up along the side of the road," Armistead said of those nights with little rest.
She turned her kids over to the foster care system in 2000. The youngest was just 9-months-old, the oldest was 9-years-old.
"I didn't have nowhere to go. I didn't have a home to go back to," said Armistead. "that was the first time I became homeless."
She knew the kids would be okay while she bounced around shelters, staying with friends, or sleeping in parking lots.
"I had no education. I had no housing. I had no transportation. I had no family support. I was like a baby learning how to walk again," Armistead said.
Armistead found her way to the Salvation Army shelter in Charlottesville, where she met Barbara Bellamy.
"If she had a problem and needed someone to talk to, she'd come and talk to me," Bellamy said.
Bellamy always believed Armistead could overcome the hard cards life dealt her.
"I knew she had it in her," said Bellamy. "She just needed someone to guide her in the right direction."
Now, Armistead is guiding the national discussion on ending homelessness. Her story earned her a scholarship to attend a conference on the topic and have a one-on-one meeting with 5th District Congressman Robert Hurt.
"Now, I look 20 years past and I'm going to DC. I'm going to DC! I'm going to Capitol Hill!" exclaims Armistead.
She's proving rock bottom isn't a place you have to stay forever.
"If you have the willpower and the fight, you can get back up there," Armistead said.
The three-day National Conference on Ending Homelessness starts Monday and ends Wednesday with the visit to Hurt's office.
This will be Armistead's first trip to Washington, DC. She missed her high school class trip to the nation's capital, because her mother was ill and didn't have the money to cover the cost.
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