Sometimes life throws you curve balls. In Deanna Nicholas' case, she and her young son, Mikey, were tossed the ultimate strikeout. Years ago, two abusive relationships left her with no where to go and no way to pay bills and survive. She felt lost.
"I couldn't afford to take care of Mikey. I couldn't afford to take care of myself," recalled Nicholas. "I felt desperate and alone and ashamed."
It was so bad, she reached out to complete strangers on social media.
One of those strangers answered and delivered clothes, hats, gloves and boots for Deanna and Mikey. The gifts came from the non-profit organization, Graces of Gurley, which provides assistance to those most in need.
That same year, when Deanna Nicholas couldn't afford Christmas gifts under the tree for little Mikey, "Graces" was there.
"A lot of people don't know what it's like...maybe I should put it another way. A lot of people do know what it's like to afford Christmas, so Graces does a lot for our community," said Nicholas.
Deanna considers Graces her saving grace and gives all the praise to one person. That is the group's founder, Sue Hereford.
"I cannot express how important she (Sue) has been and God has used her in a way that is unique and special," said Nicholas.
For her part, Sue Hereford works quietly with humility, helping women like Deanna through efforts like Graces of Gurley and programs like Jacob's Ladder and The Refuge, an after-school program to help keep kids in school and out of trouble.
Deanna said if it were not for Sue and all of these programs, she doesn't know what would have happened to her and Mikey.
"They made me feel welcome. They supported me. They valued me as a person," said Nicholas. "She is my hero."
However, Sue Hereford said her real reward is knowing that women like Deanna get back on their feet. Sue praises a higher power that works through her to give these women strength.
"I guess it is a gift from the Lord and my friends. It's just an encouragement," said Hereford. "The people that I have grown to love out here have changed me more than I have changed any part of their story."
Deanna's story is now one filled with accomplishment, having worked her way through college and now into social counseling.
Now, with the help of Sue Hereford and Graces of Gurley, more success stories can be told of mothers like Deanna and little boys like Mikey, who now get the chance to score life's ultimate home run, a new lease on life. It's thanks to their Hometown Hero, Sue Hereford.
If you would like to nominate someone to be a WAAY 31 Hometown Hero, fill out the form here.