Pratt: Faith and hope make a miracle

Did you know that Sheree Harris won a red 2013 Chevy Camaro on Wednesday? Probably not. You probably don’t know Sheree Harris.

But, I wanted to know more about Harris because she is one of the bazillion people who win stuff — and I never do.

Harris, as my grandmother would say, “had some kinda story to tell.”

Wouldn’t you know it, she only bought one $20 raffle ticket from the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging for a chance to win.

And, about 45 minutes before the drawing, Harris said, “I told my co-worker ‘I’m going to the (Cortana) mall to get my car when I get off from work.’… I had already told God I wanted that car, so I considered it done.”

If it wasn’t for her faith and a pool of determination, Harris would never have been in the position to win the car. You see, she was down and out for a while.

For most of her adult life, Harris has survived. Living was something else. The single mother has been on food stamps and lived in low-income housing.

“It was tough,” she said.

She worked a variety of long-hour, low-pay jobs — cashier, domestic and waitress — with virtually no chance of advancing. Those are not jobs that springboard you into a new tax bracket.

But she never gave up. She kept moving forward.

In 2009, she got a commercial driver’s license so that she could get a job driving an East Baton Rouge Parish School bus. That lasted for a couple years until her teenage son began having some serious disciplinary issues.

“He was headed in the wrong direction,” she said. One thing lead to another and Harris’ life spiraled into depression. Then she fell into deeper depression.

“I couldn’t finish the school year driving the bus. … I just walked away a few weeks before the end of school. I just wanted to cry and stay in the bed all of the time. That’s all I did for about eleven months,” she said.

But, then she started to lean heavily on her faith, got up and looked for a job. Last year, Harris was hired by the Capital Area Transit Service to drive one of its buses.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Harris bought her raffle ticket. “They tried to sell me another ticket, but I said, ‘All I need is one.’ ” she said.

When she ended her bus shift around noon Wednesday, Harris drove to Cortana Mall because she thought the drawing would be there because that’s where she bought her ticket. “I had to be there when they called my name,” she said.

But Harris was at the wrong location. Frantic, she hopped back in her car, took a guess that the drawing would be at the COA office on Florida Boulevard. “I had to hurry.”

Before she could get to the COA, she received a phone call. It was from someone with COA.

“You calling about my car,” she yelled. The caller asked her to wait because someone wanted to talk to her. It was the owner of Gerry Lane Chevrolet, where the Camaro was parked.

Before he could speak, “I screamed and screamed because I knew someone was going to tell me about my car.”

“That’s my God with me. No matter how things are with me, he always stays with me,” she said.

Who am I to doubt her?

Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is