Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chelle's Story

LaRonda Rochelle Waller, better known to her friends as Chelle, grew up in the projects of Nashville, TN. She remembers herself as a child being popular and protective of her three younger brothers and sisters. After her parents split up when she was 13, she went to live with her aunt. Hungry for attention, Chelle starting experimenting with marijuana and pursuing the “bad boys” of her neighborhood.

She was driven though and persevered. After high school, she entered cosmetology school and opened her own shop as soon as she was able. Though successful, Chelle had to close her shop because she hadn’t filed the right paperwork. To pay the bills in the meantime, Chelle resorted to selling drugs. She also starting using and soon going after paperwork to keep her shop open became less important than the drugs.

In order to support her habit, she began selling her body in exchange for money for the drugs. She was arrested several times but would always return to the streets when she was released. At eight months pregnant, Chelle found herself in jail again. When she was ready to give birth, she was transferred from the jail to the hospital and had her daughter in shackles. It was at that point, she knew she had to stop.

In 2003, Chelle entered Magdalene and graduated in 2005. She was a perfect example of the benefits of the program: she worked at Thistle Farms part time, she saved her money which was doubled at graduation and she opened her own hair salon. But as time went on, Chelle’s involvement with Thistle Farms dwindled and she found herself trying to handle life on her own again. Over the next few years, Chelle slowly started to retreat to her old ways of selling drugs and eventually, using again.

This dangerous cycle stayed true to its nature and Chelle found herself, once again, in front of a judge. As part of Chelle’s probation, she was ordered to go to Magdalene three times a week… which was just the home she needed.

Chelle will be clean two years in May and returned to Thistle Farms as the Administrative Assistant to the Managing Director over a year ago. Chelle says, “You’re never alone when you’re in Magdalene. Once you come in, you’re a sister for life. You’re always welcomed back – and I’m living proof!”

story and top & bottom pictures by Carolyn Snell
middle picture by BellaLu Photography


  1. What a beautiful person and organization. I love that Magdalene took her back. We all need second chances and someone to be there for us at all times, just like Jesus does. Continue to excel Chelle!

  2. Beautiful Chelle.

  3. Keep up the good work Chelle..I'm praying for you and all at Magdelene.

  4. This is a beautiful story. I actually had an opportunity to witness it. I Love you Big Sister. Keep moving forward and God will continue to bless you.