She chose door number 3, and it’s changed her life – and her son’s life – forever.
April 12, 2021
See, Tawanda Baker could have given up hope. A Sam’s Club associate and single mother who received news that her young son had Leukemia. Times were tough and emotions were obviously escalating. But Tawanda had a goal. Her son was going to beat cancer and she was going to find a way to make a loving home for both of them to call their own, now and forever.
"I was devastated," Tawanda said when she got the news. "However, I was blessed that I worked for a company that was family oriented that helped me during this horrific nightmare. Sam’s Club is such a special place to work. People always show they care." And that’s when Tawanda found some peace. Behind door number 1 was defeat. She could have opened it. Many of us may have, but as you’ll find out, Tawanda is a fighter.
First, she knew she had to take care of her son’s health. She found out she was a match for her son and became his bone marrow donor. The good news was Tawanda could help her son’s health, but she didn’t know how she was going to make it through medical expenses, time off work and all the bills that would surely mount up. If you have no idea what’s available to help you, then it’s almost impossible. But when you know, new doors can open.
"To say my managers had my back is an understatement. Not only did my leadership team support the time I needed to take off, but they helped me get access to our company’s resources and funds, with things like ACNT (Associate in Critical Need Trust)," Tawanda said. "I never feared I was going to lose my job, and I always felt like I could do what I needed to do for my family."
That was it, right? She took care of her son’s cancer, returned to work and behind door number 2 things could go back to normal. No, not for Tawanda. That was only half the battle. She wanted to own a home, something she and her son could cherish together. So, she slammed that door shut and got to work.
When it comes to finances, people aren’t always comfortable talking about it. But I was open and honest about my goals for the future, and my desire to buy a house, and people helped guide me on how to do it.
Tawanda didn’t have the best credit and had made some bad financial choices early on. But a former manager told her about the Profit Sharing and 401(k) program through the company, and that’s where she got started. She was able to save, pay off bills and strengthen her credit.
"Through hard work, pay increases and Samshare (the company’s bonus program for hourly associates) and the investment I placed in myself early on I continued to advance and improve my financial situation," she explained. "I focused on cleaning my credit and got a secured credit card and paid all my bills on time and really disciplined myself to not spend unnecessary money."
And… after first buying a car and making the payments on time, which helped build her credit score. She did it. She was pre-approved for a home.
"I finally made it there," Tawanda said. "Maintaining good financial habits has brought me comfort because I know no matter what, I’ll be able to take care of my family," Tawanda said. "Changing your money habits isn’t easy – but it’s worth it!"
And now because she chose door number 3. She gets to walk through it with pride every day, knowing she is paving the path for her family for generations to come. And of course, in true Tawanda fashion, there might be another door opening very soon.
"I’m looking to grow my career even more with Sam’s Club and become a co-manager in the future," she said of what’s next for her, adding she’s ready to open every door. "My next goal is to own a restaurant. My grandpop had a restaurant called the Pitstop in Brooklyn, Maryland. I love to cook and would like to carry on the family tradition."
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Tawanda’s financial journey, the programs she used and how it’s impacting her family, watch this conversation one of our Market Managers, Dionne Adams, had with her to help others learn so they can pave their own path, just like Tawanda.