Leonarda Marie Moses was born on August 3, 1981 in New Iberia, Louisiana. She joined the United States Army in August 2002 and attended basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. Upon completion of basic training, she attended Advance Initial Training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX to obtain the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 91W which is a Combat Medic.
During her career, Leonarda has served as Section Leader, Squad Leader, Non-commissioned Officer in charge (NCOIC) of several Optometry Clinics on Fort Bragg, NC, Unit Prevention Leader (UPL), Family Readiness Liaison (FRL), Schools Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Training Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) representative, Infection Control representative, member of the Womack Army Medical Center Color Guard Team, and a Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamStepps) trainer. She participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Leonarda has been assigned to the following units: E Company, 2nd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., B Company, 232nd Medical Battalion (MB), Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX, C Company 702nd Main Support Battalion (MSB); 2nd Infantry Division (ID), Camp Casey, Korea, HHC 1-7th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) 108th ADA Brigade, Fort Bliss, TX, HHC 2-1 ADA; 35th ADA Brigade, Kwangju, Korea, 187th MB, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX, Student Company, Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC); Washington D.C., B Company Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC), Fort Bragg, NC, 176th Medical Detachment Optometry; 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion (MMB); Fort Hood, TX and is currently assigned to B Company (WAMC); Fort Bragg, NC as the NCOIC of the Troop and Family Medical Optometry Clinic.
Leonarda’s military and civilian education includes the Army Basic Instructor’s Course, Health Care Specialist Course, Eye Specialist Course Phase I, Eye Specialty Course Phase II, Driver’s Training Course, Field Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties Course, Pharmacy Technician Course, Bus Driver’s Course, Warrior Leader’s Course, Advance Leader’s Course, SERE 100 Code of Conduct Training, Middle Management Course (Non-commissioned Officer Lead), Unit Prevention Leader’s Course and has obtain an Associates of Science Degree in Health Sciences.
Leonarda was selected as Soldier of the Month (2007), participated in the Iron NCO Competition at Fort Sam Houston. She is also an Executive Trainer with 5Linx as a direct marketing representative, a member the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), honorary member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Her awards and decorations include Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC), Army Achievement Medal (2OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (#4), National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (# 2), Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Ribbon (#3).
As a child I would always keep whatever I had; meaning; if there was a leaf that had fallen from the tree onto the car I would take the leaf off and place it on the ground next to the other leaves and if we were going to go somewhere I would get the leaf put it in my pocket of hide it under the back seat of the car so I could take it back to where it came for so it could be with the leaves that it had fallen with. Each time I would go out if I had a bag of chips no matter where I was I would take the empty bag back home with me because I didn’t want to leave it alone. I believed then and still believe now that I don’t like to see anyone or anything alone. I can’t imagine being alone.
Growing up in Chicago it was cool the only thing I saw that was close to a homeless person was the neighborhood drunks, but they were not homeless they were like the neighborhood watch and they would always look after all the kids. The one thing I learned about me that made me different was I was always trying to help someone or something. When I was about 12 years old a cat followed me into my home and my dad told me I had to get rid of it; because the cat didn’t have anywhere to go I hid the cat in my room. One day I had to wash dishes and the cat got out and came down stairs and while standing there it jumped on my shoulder when my dad saw it and yelled at me and told me I had to get rid of the cat, I cried and went to my room and later he came to my room and told me I could keep the cat. I learned how to crochet so I could make my cat some clothes; I named him Tammy; yes, I know it was a girl’s name but Tammy seemed to fit.
When I was 21 years of age I remember going to one of my friends house to have dinner with his family; we had a great time and when it was time to leave I thanked his mom for such a great time and we left. When we got to my front porch still laughing and cracking jokes; I was looking backwards at my friend and trying to put the key in the front door the first attempt failed and the second and third one had as well. I looked down at my key to be sure I was using the right one and it was; I then looked at the door and noticed that the lock on the door had been changed.
Confused about what had taken place I told my friend and he couldn’t believe what was happening, ironically I told him about the things that happened to me while growing up and he didn’t believe me but after this he then thought I could go to one of my relatives until I figured something out. Out of everyone I had an address or a telephone number for would not allow me to stay; my best friend told me she would allow my daughter to stay with her but I couldn’t; he then asked his mom if I could stay with her for a week until I contacted my aunt that lived in Arkansas to see if I could stay with her. When my auntie contacted me she told me to come back home…My aunt has always told me that I would have a home with her.
Not knowing where you were going to be able to lay your head at night and when everyone turns their back on you and you have nowhere to turn is horrifying I know this from experience and this is why I am so adamant about helping those who are less fortunate; I had never had to lay my head on a cold ground; but the fearing of having to is terrifying. Writing this story brings back that day as if it were yesterday and I had no idea how much it has affected me I know that everything I do is with others in mind and never would I want anyone to have to experience such a hurtful act. But some people do and now it is time to make a change and I want to make that change. My life story was in the eyes of a child and a young mother was horrifying; but I survived and I have the position to make a difference in someone else’s life
Living in Germany; I was the chairperson over the hospitality committee; and there was a woman who lived upstairs in the same apartment building as I did. No matter what day it was and no matter what was going on she seemed to have some sort of problem with me; well as hospitality I started a program called Jus cause…with this whenever we had a program at church; I would give away flowers; but no one knew who I would give the gift to. Because of the problems I was going through at home I took the potted flowers to the lady and when I got to her door; I knocked on her door and when she opened I handed her the flowers never saying a word. Because of this the woman saw me outside the following day and said thank you. She explained to me why she was so bitter and the following Sunday she came to the church I attended and gave her life to Christ.
Another instance while I was in Germany I worked in the finance dept. I was a voucher examiner; my job was to process the voucher that soldiers brought in. I would always be placed at the front desk and from the processing in the back to being in the front desk clerk. I didn’t understand why I was always placed at the front desk but later when I received my work evaluation I discovered I was requested. I believed in helping others not just to bare minimum but as much as I could to ensure, everyone got what they needed. When I left Germany; I moved to NC while on lunch break I was leaving the Wendy’s and a lady approached me; she said I remember you… I didn’t recognize her she said I remember you from Germany; she continued and said my husband came to the finance office and he met you and when he left he went to church and gave his life to Christ. Still unsure of who she or her husband it made me feel good to know that I made a difference in someone else’s life. I can go on for hours and hours telling you stories about things that has inevitably at some point impacted someone’s life and that has been my goal in life is to be able to help someone else. Now I must continue this journey by supporting and making a way for those who are less fortunate than me.
Born and raised in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area, Rynika McGirt is the lead photographer at H.O.P.E.S. She is responsible for increasing awareness of homelessness through H.O.P.E.S. using her passion for photography by covering the organization’s activities and events.
Rynika became interested in homelessness as a growing social problem while pursuing her Bachelors of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Rynika also practices her passion for photography through Radiant Gold Photography where she provides on-location portrait and event photography for families and children.
Samuel Morris is a resident of Fayetteville NC having lived here for the past 17 years.
He was an enlisted member in the United States Army and was stationed in 3 different countries during his active duty career. Samuel retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years of service and now works as a civilian nurse at Fort Bragg here in Fayetteville.
Samuel enjoys the physical activities of running and biking along with visiting the beautiful costal beaches of North Carolina.