At the age of 28, Lareka Marshall found herself alone with three children and without a place to call home.

At the age of 28, Lareka Marshall found herself alone with three children and without a place to call home.

Three years ago, she left Prince George’s County, Md.,  fleeing an abusive relationship, and spent time at The Shepherd Place in Dover and in Crisis House Shelter in Georgetown before finally getting back on her feet. It took her eight months, but she did it. She now owns two businesses:  123 Easy Catering and Cleaning Scents. She also owns a car and rents an apartment. She’s also found a way to give back with the help of Carolyn Holloway.

The two met when Holloway began caring for Marshall’s children at her home daycare, Christian Care.

The women have started two projects together. Soulful Gospel Events brings gospel comedians, praise dancers, singers and speakers to Sam Yoder Farm in Houston. Those who buy tickets for the events receive a catered dinner − provided my Marshall − and a show. After hosting several Soulful Gospel events, the women took the money raised by the gospel nights and used it to start Project Soulful, an effort that aims to provide those living in transitional housing or homeless shelters with a hot meal, entertainment and encouragement.

“When Lareka and I met, she was talking to me about catering and said she wanted to do a soul food dinner,” Holloway said. “We just went from there.

“Once we got into Soulful Gospel, here comes Project Soulful right behind. We hope it will be a movement and people will want to do more for their community.”

Holloway has worked as an evangelist for many years and has opened up her home to the homeless and those in need before. Project Soulful is just one of her many outreach efforts. She also runs Fight For Your Children, an organization designed to encourage parent involvement, as well as Daughters of Virtue, provides mentoring services for girls age 7 to 16.

Project Soulful held its first event at The Shepherd Place in Dover on Wednesday. Marshall, a culinary school graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Norfolk, Va., served up a dinner of baked and barbecue chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese to the residents at the shelter, which houses women and children. The meal was followed by gospel music and a gospel comedian, before Marshall stepped up to share her story with the residents of The Shepherd Place.

“Being that I was homeless, I want to be a walking movement,” Marshall said. “I want them to know that I was homeless with my three children. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have a house, but I have a success story, so they have something to look forward to. I did it and they can, too.”

Later this month, Project Soulful will hold its second charity event at Crisis House. The duo is hoping the efforts will start a larger movement and that Project Soulful will be a national or international mission, Marshall said.

“Project Soulful is just us going into these shelters and encouraging these men and women with children, to show them that you have people out here that care about them,” Marshall said.