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Candidate for Congress says she was formerly homeless
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Candidate for Congress says she was formerly homeless

While formally launching her congressional campaign Monday evening in Rapid City, a Custer woman revealed that she once lived at a homeless shelter.

“When I first moved to South Dakota I lived right here in Rapid City, not far from this spot actually, at 30 Main Street,” Whitney Raver said during her campaign kickoff at Murphy’s Pub and Grill in downtown Rapid City, which was streamed on Facebook. “And if you don’t recognize that off the top of your head, that is the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.”

Raver, 32, said she always remembered during the difficult times in her life that “there was something else for me if I just kept climbing.”

“There is a name for that,” Raver said. “It is a philosophy that even today is spoken in reverent whispers all over the world. It is the American dream, and I still believe in that dream.”

Raver, a married mother of three, said in a Journal phone interview Tuesday that she operates a digital marketing business called What’s the Word, which assists nonprofit clients. She also operates a business-coaching website called Makeshift.

Raver is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, in next year’s November general election. She’ll first have to get through a June Democratic primary election that could include multiple candidates, including Brian Wirth, a Dell Rapids financial crime-detection specialist who formally announced his candidacy in August.

After she was born in Georgia, Raver said her family moved to Texas, where her mother left after her stepfather grew chronically ill. Raver said she dropped out of school at age 13 to care for her stepfather and four siblings.

Later, Raver said, she earned a GED diploma and also a degree in kinesiology from Indiana University. She settled in the Black Hills, she said, after her vehicle broke down here and she fell in love with the area.

During her speech Monday evening, she recalled inspirational advice from her grandfather and said she is running for Congress to help others overcome challenges like she did.

“I remember he’d say, ‘When you wake up one day and you realize that there is nothing more that you could rightfully stand before God and ask for, that is when you are living the dream,'" Raver said. “And when you find that day, it’s no longer yours to chase. That’s when that dream becomes yours to protect. We must each work to keep the dream alive for all people, or it will fade for everyone.”

Contact Seth Tupper at

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