Felicia Stewart is the President and Founder of Hope 2 Restoration, a nonprofit organization in Leesburg. Felicia used experiences and obstacles she has gone through and overcome as inspiration to start H2R, which provides resources to our homeless community, convicted felons, and domestic violence victims — supplying them a second chance at life. The organization is set up to help them with the tools they need to become self sufficient.

During Women’s History Month, Felicia shared her experiences and challenges she has faced as a woman and domestic violence survivor. She discussed women who were her inspiration and what she says to inspire others.

What is your backstory that brought you to where you are today? What obstacles have you overcome?

Thirty-one years ago, I came Orlando, Florida, from a domestic violence relationship with four children, only to experience homelessness as a working single mother who had survived a gunshot wound, abuse and addictions.  While going through that horrific season of my life, I realize there were many obstacles I had to overcome even when it came to trying to simply feed myself and my children. I also watched my father go through homelessness, which unfortunately led to his untimely death. This was my WHY. There had to be a better way, and I was determined to dream it and achieve it.

Who is a woman who is an inspiration to you?

There were many women who have encouraged and inspired me, but I have to say my most amazing inspiration would be my mother, Patricia Marks. I watched her fight many battles in life: domestic violence, single motherhood, racism, and the biggest fight of them all, cancer. She was a powerful woman, and no matter what she went through, she never complained and she loved people. She smiled all the way through it and never gave up. Even though she lost the last fight of her life to cancer, I still remember her helping so many others while in her battle with her smile and encouraging words as she was in pain herself. My mom is definitely my inspiration

What have you done that you hope inspires other women?

I believe I turned my PAIN into PURPOSE, and if I was to inspire other women to do anything, it would be to take what has tried to hold you down and brought you the most painful days and make it your WHY. Turn it into the purpose of helping someone else come out of a painful situation.

What would you say to inspire other women to reach their goals and break barriers? 

I would tell all women to never allow stumbling blocks, negative words, or unforeseen circumstances to hold you down, but much rather allow them to pivot you to the next level of your destiny. Use every barrier as a block to build your next greater level of growth. Use everything as Information, to build your Revelation for Motivation to get to your DESTINATION.