Shanta Horton was born and raised in Osceola, Arkansas. When she was 16 years old, her mother passed away. Horton lived in her grandmother’s care for some time, then she moved to be with her sister in Memphis, TN, where she finished high school. Following graduation, Horton joined the military at age 17. She served 4 ½ years in the U.S. Air Force.
Horton’s life was made of many hardships. She survived sexual abuse as a child, and was later a victim of rape. Horton went into a depression, and was addicted to drugs, and attempted suicide. She came to Marion, IN, while with her ex-husband, living a dangerous path. One Sunday in 2005, Horton attended a church service at the nearest place she could find. She then sought help through a different nearby church — God’s House. They welcomed her and helped her begin her recovery, Horton explained. “That is where my true healing began.”
Since that year, Horton has been an active member of society devoting her life to God whom she relies upon in daily decisions. She has been reunited with her family, and has since been a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, carrying forth a legacy her own grandmother planted in her upon her death about a year ago.
Horton has been employed with Marion Community Schools since 2006, having started in the cafeteria, but has soon after been a teacher’s aide for many years, presently at Frances Slocum Elementary.
Notably, Horton has been a volunteer with MPowering Youth since its inception over 5 years ago. Over time, she has blossomed as a “grower” in the community gardening program – helping to enrich the lives children and teach them to feel the rewards of hard work.
Dr. David Moore who leads MPowering Youth expressed that Horton has truly unleashed her full potential in her passion for gardening and working with children. “It is an absolute delight seeing how she is blessing other people. If you are teamed up with Shanta, you know that the work will be well-done. Our gardens have never been better, and, although participation is still low due to COVID, the enthusiasm is high.”
Shanta and her team maintain five gardens throughout Marion, and she additionally maintains a garden at her home. Harvests are shared among the community including local pantries that serve the hungry. There is a long list of partners and volunteers who make MPowering Youth — their community gardens and other programming — all possible. To learn more of this nonprofit, visit “M‑Powering YOUTH” on Facebook.
Horton says she is passionate about the Marion community. Her message is to spread love, and not hate. She emphasized, “It may look different, but everyone has the same ability to bring the love.”