Our Successes

Here are some testimonials from families who  have benefitted from
programs offered by Dawning Family Services.

 

Dawning Family Services incorporates programs and case management

to create a personalized plan for each family. The myriad of services include:

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Safe and secure bridge housing

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Housing search programs

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Prevention & diversion services

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Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) assistance

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Post-bridge housing support to ensure a family's continued housing stability

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Employment Support Services

Outcomes

In 2021, Dawning Family Servicers (formerly Alpha House of Tampa) is proud to share that we:

  • Provided emergency bridge housing for 92 households consisting of 114 adults and 178 children
  • Served 70 families through our post-bridge housing support services
  • Housed 45 families through our Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) Program, which provides security and utility deposits, rental assistance, and post-bridge housing case management services.
  • 100% were homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness
  • 79% of families left to permanent housing as defined by HUD
  • 53% of adults advanced their education and/or improved their ability to gain and retain meaningful employment
  • 55 children received Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) developmental screenings and were at or above their developmental milestones and ready for school.
  • Introduction to our employment services, 64 clients received services, 100% received job-seeking skills, and 34 were employed. 

Our Success Stories

Angela’s choice

A mother of two making a difficult decision for the sake of her girls.

 Olivia, six years old and the eldest of two, struggled with constant anxiety because of her family becoming homeless. Her mother, Angela, was forced to make a difficult decision; endure living in an unhealthy home or move out and become homeless. Angela wanted nothing more than to protect her two children and show them, unconditional love. She chose her children’s safety, forcing them to live in her car until she could figure out her next move. Angela was determined to create a better life for her family.

            She was connected to Dawning Family Services and entered our Emergency Bridge Housing Program which provided safe shelter for her family. While living there, Olivia would constantly tell her mom how happy she was to be in a safe place. But from time to time, would still suffer anxiety due to the trauma she encountered while being homeless.

            Amazingly, within only one month of being in shelter Angela and her Dawning Family Services case worker found a house that her family could move into by the end of that week. Her daughters were overjoyed to have a safe home they can finally call theirs. A bed, air conditioning, safety, and protection… they were overjoyed.

       During her time in shelter, Angela was connected to DFS’s Employment Department where she attended employment workshops and worked closely with our Employment Specialist to be better prepared for job opportunities on the horizon. 

Angela is now fully employed, in a safe home with her two daughters, and doing better than ever.

         Because of donor support, families like Angela’s can turn to Dawning Family Services. With your support, DFS can continue helping our community’s most vulnerable families. 

Can you help us today?  Please visit our website to see more stories like this, and support our mission of helping families who have been touched by homelessness: Success Stories | Dawning Family Services

Fighting to provide for their family

Kendall & David’s journey with Dawning Family Services

“Mom… where are we going to sleep tonight?” little Abby asked, as tears swelled in her eyes.

Kendall didn’t know. They had been homeless longer than she would like to remember; there were too many sleepless nights to count. Kendall and her husband, David, have been working hard to make ends meet but it just wasn’t enough. Each night after work David would hug his two young kids tight and promise them a better tomorrow. As times got harder, both Kendall and David lost their jobs leaving them helpless to house and feed their family.

With no viable employment opportunities, Kendall started looking for other options. She was connected to Dawning Family Services (DFS) and their family soon moved into Emergency Bridge Housing where they were welcomed with open arms. Through this program the family had a safe place to sleep so they could focus on working with their Housing and Support Specialist to set goals for achieving employment and housing stability. David worked one on one with DFS’ Specialists to develop his resume and prepare for interviews while Kendall developed a family budget and searched for permanent housing.   Our specialist helped David secure a job quickly and soon the family was moving into their own apartment thanks to our Rapid Rehousing program.

Just when everything was looking bright, the family hit a few bumps in the road. Within a few months of employment David suffered a work injury and could not return to his job. David felt as if the rug was pulled out from underneath them; they were so close to their goal of providing a secure home for their kids. Unfortunately, David’s injury was not the only stressor at the time. Kendall had just fallen victim to a cyber-attack, costing vital funds and progress in their journey. For at least two months, the family struggled to make ends meet. Using all the money they had saved for other bills, groceries, gas, and all their other necessities. Thankfully during this time, the Rapid Rehousing Program covered the rent and utility costs, giving Kendall and David additional support as they searched for employment.

Time passed and David secured a job, allowing him to start contributing to rent and start to rebuilding their savings account. Kendall followed in his footsteps a few weeks later and their family was back on track to transition out of the program and fully sustain themselves on their own.

Kendall was moved by the Dawning Team as they made her feel safe, valued, and showed how they wouldn’t give up on her family. She saw firsthand the positive changes Social Workers could make in someone’s life.  We are happy to report that Kendall is pursuing a career in Social Work and is finishing her degree at a local college. Both Kendall and David take pride in their journey and how far they have come from experiencing homelessness to providing for their children while planning the future.

At Dawning Family Services, we embrace diverse families with minor children who are at risk or are currently homeless and provide support in transitioning them to safe and stable housing. If you would like to support DFS visit our website to learn more: www.dawningfamilyservices.org or donate to help families like Kendall’s, find their own success story: www.dawningfamilyservices.org/donate/

From being in the spotlight to underneath the streetlights;

Donald never thought his family would become homeless.

“We came here for the opportunity of a lifetime, and we were left stranded…” Donald left his country to pursue his dream of becoming a professional athlete by moving to the United States. Shortly after the big move, that dream came true as he was offered a position as a professional athlete in another city. He was living the life he always wanted for himself and for his beautiful family of seven.

Donald’s dream quickly faded after his first season. He was not asked to return, and his contract ended. His dream of being a professional athlete and providing for his family was snatched away.  Both Donald and his wife, Ashley, had a difficult time making ends meet without any stream of income, and the seven of them were forced to move in with family. They tried finding employment, to support their family and have a place to call home; however, due to housing instability, no one would hire them.

During this time, their four-year-old son, José, was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder. This required the family to take José to the hospital three times a week for treatment and health checkups. Quickly burning through any funds, they had left, the family ultimately became homeless.

Ashley called 211 for help and was introduced to Dawning Family Services. Donald, Ashley & their five children entered our Emergency Bridge Housing, which provided a safe and secure home so they could focus on their son’s health and finding employment. The family worked closely with the Dawning Family Services team to identify affordable housing opportunities through our Rapid Re-Housing Program.

Dawning Family Services has succeeded in keeping this family together during their time in crisis. Our programs are providing them a safe place to call home, time to heal, and employment opportunities that will change the trajectory of their future and their children’s lives.

Your investments in Dawning Family Services make a real impact on families like Donald’s; families in our community…families who are our neighbors.

Will you help? Please visit dawningfamilyservices.org/donate and make your donation today.  Our families need your help.

A Single Mother’s Journey:  Forced on the streets from soaring rent

“I can’t believe the rent is going up this much”, Cheryl thought, as tears fell.  She shook her head in disbelief.  She had worked hard, taking side jobs, starting a new career, and finally having a safe and secure home with her two young children.  It all seemed to be fleeting with the notice of a rent increase. “How can they do this to me after we have worked so hard?”, Cheryl thought.

It was the ordinary things that meant so much to Cheryl; having a kitchen to prepare dinner, falling asleep to the hum of the clothes dryer, and dreaming of a better life for her children.  “Will I ever get ahead?”, she thought, as Cheryl watched her children sleep.

Cheryl’s journey with Dawning Family Services (DFS) started several months prior when she and her children were facing sleeping on the streets.  Although Cheryl was working full time, there was never enough money to cover rent, food, and utilities.   With Dawning’s help, the family moved into Emergency Bridge Housing and achieved permanent housing within two months.

Now, less than a year later, Cheryl felt that she was back at the starting point, facing homelessness again.  She reached out to Dawning Family Services and the team quickly stepped into action, extending their Rapid Re-housing services and searching for a more affordable home.  Cheryl also worked closely with the DFS Career Services Program and was offered a full-time job with better pay and benefits.  Thanks to the Dawning Family Services team the sun is shining again for Cheryl and her family.

Your support and investments in Dawning Family Services are directly impacting our community’s most vulnerable families, like Cheryl’s.  To support our mission or learn more about ways you can help, please visit dawningfamilyservices.org.

Antoinette & Her Grandson

Ms. Antoinette arrived at Dawning Family Services as a self-referral in June 2021.  She was a caregiver to her minor grandson and faced many obstacles because of limited income.  Antoinette received only $800 a month for disability and was able to occasionally bring in extra earnings by babysitting for family and friends.  She lived in a mobile home community and was served notice that a new owner had purchased the property.  All tenants had to either vacate within 30 days or purchase their mobile home with $3,000 down plus interest rates and lot rental fees.  With such limited income, purchasing the mobile home was not an option for Ms. Antoinette. 

 

With only a 30-day notice from Antoinette’s property manager, the Dawning Family Services team had to take quick action.  Fortunately, Antoinette was able to move in with a family member while our team pursued affordable housing options. With a lot of coordination and networking with other community partners, we located an affordable cottage in Antoinette preferred area, assisted her with food from our pantry, and provided financial assistance for utilities and moving expenses.  By August 2021, Antoinette and her grandson were living safely in their new home. 

 

Your investments and support of Dawning Family Services makes it possible for our team members to assist vulnerable community members like Antoinette and her grandson.  Thank you for helping us make the world a better place!  To learn more about our services or to donate, please visit dawningfamilyservices.org.

Ada’s story continues…

 

We last heard of Ada fighting against all odds to find safe and secure housing for her family.  With the help of the DFS team, Ada and her children transitioned from emergency bridge housing to a permanent home.  The children were adjusting well to their new home and school, and Ada was enjoying her new full-time job.  Things were going well as the family fell into life’s rhythm of a happy and stable home.  However, Ada’s story was just beginning.  In October, she received notice from the apartment manager that her rent would increase significantly in December when it would be time to sign a new lease. 

 Unfortunately, this was not a surprise to our DFS case managers, who receive daily calls from families facing drastic rent increases because of Hillsborough County’s affordable housing crisis.

This news was a substantial stressor to Ada, who was concerned about the emotional impact it could have on her children, who was adapting so well to a regular routine between their new home and school.  Ada was determined to keep her home, so she accepted a 2nd job, to increase her total earnings, in hopes of remaining in her home.  Ada applied for a new lease, with the additional income, but it was still not enough because of the rent increase.  She was denied again and didn’t know how she would find an affordable home during the Holiday Season, in this competitive housing market.  Ada was devastated.

Because Ada had enrolled with the DFS After Care Program, our case managers became aware of her situation and stepped into action.  DFS team members from all programs worked together internally to find other options for Ada’s situation.  DFS referred, connected, and advocated for Ada at many different apartment communities.  Finally, Ada was pre-approved for an apartment that would be available in December, when her family had to move.  She had finally found a new home for her family!

But Ada’s joy was short-lived.  The new apartment required unexpected maintenance and repairs, which delayed availability.  DFS assisted Ada and her family to be able to temporarily staying in a hotel until the new apartment was available.  After overcoming so many obstacles, Ada received a call that the new apartment was available and ready for moving in.  Ada and her children are doing well, and she continues working both jobs to ensure there is enough income to cover basic needs.

Ada remains enrolled in the DFS After Care Program and is grateful for the dedication of our case managers throughout this process.  Without the DFS team, Ada and her family would have fallen into homelessness again.

Beating an Uphill Battle

 

Ada never imagined, when she and her two children moved from New Jersey to Tampa for a fresh start, that they would find themselves homeless. But, around Thanksgiving of 2020, that is exactly what happened. Out of the blue, the family member that they were living with told Ada that she and her children were no longer welcome to live there. For a while, Ada was able to pay for a hotel for her family. Soon, the money ran out, and they became homeless.

Ada tried to find work and a safe place to live for her family. However, a language barrier in Ada only speaking Spanish, made finding safe housing and work challenging for her. Ada was thankful for connecting with Dawning Family Services (DFS), as we provided emergency bridge housing for Ada and her children. In addition, we worked with Ada to understand and meet her family’s unique needs, such as assigning her a bilingual case manager and identifying that Ada needed funds for gas so she could search for work. Dawning Family Services was able to secure ASO funds for Ada so she could afford gas for her job search, as well as essential items she needed, such as bedding. With help from her DFS case manager, Ada was able to make progress and transitioned to our Rapid Rehousing Program, where we covered the full rent and move-in costs as she worked to stabilize.

In January, Ada expressed to her DFS case manager interest in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Ada felt that taking this leap into a new career path would help her and her family find stability. Thanks to ASO funds secured by Dawning Family Services, Ada graduated in May of 2021 from the Aguilas International Institute with her CNA certification! She began working full-time as a CNA in August. Things were really looking up and Ada was proud of being able to provide for her family!

About one month into working full-time as a CNA, Ada fell victim to theft.  All she saved from her full-time job was stolen from her bank account.  Around the same time, Ada was notified from her apartment complex that she would have to find new housing as her income was not enough to live there once she finished our Rapid Rehousing program. This was devasting for Ada as she needed to get a second job to better support her family. DFS continued to provide rental and case management support to Ada during this time, so she could focus on getting back on her feet.

Ada did not let these setbacks discourage her! Within weeks, not only did she get a second, great-paying job, but she also found a new, forever home. To bring extra cheer over the holidays, DFS was able to provide Ada’s children with gifts, including brand-new bicycles donated from Premiere Cycling! Her children were overjoyed to receive the bicycles and other gifts for Christmas. Ada now feels very hopeful about her family’s future and is excited to start the New Year with a new lease on life. Ada and her family are so thankful for all the support from ASO and DFS!

Shawne’s Story

     Shawne found herself 6 months pregnant and homeless again. This was not the first time Shawne found herself homeless, costing her custody of her two other children. She was given 3 months to find a home before giving birth or she risked losing custody of her unborn child. To say finding housing in time was challenging was an understatement! Every day she would search for new opportunities with the hope, ”Today would be the day!”, ,but everything led to dead ends. She became overwhelmed with worry and began to lose all hope.
 
     When Shawne came to Dawning Family Services, we were able to help her through our Rapid Rehousing Program, which helps a family with securing a new home, as well as, providing rental and utility assistance. Through hard work from our team, we were able to find Shawne a new home and helped furnish her home through THHI 560 in 560 program. Shawne found the security and safety she had been dreaming of for months. Now, Shawne has a safe place to call home for her and her baby boy.

Our Story: Kacey, Mark, and their family

Just imagine: A global pandemic has taken hold, you have four children and are pregnant with your fifth, your husband has been laid off from work with no job prospects insight, and your family has been evicted from their home. You’ve been fortunate to find an emergency bridge housing that can accept your entire family. But now what?

That was Kacey and Mark just two months ago. Taking matters into their own hands, the family turned to
Dawning Family Services. Their assigned case manager at Dawning immediately developed a housing plan for the family and registered Kacey and her husband, Mark, for the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative’s “Speed Leasing Event.” Through this program, the family was approved for a 3-bedroom apartment, with Dawning Family Services providing financial assistance to cover the cost of a security deposit, first month’s rent, and a portion of the monthly rent and utilities throughout the summer.

Dawning Family Services also provided meals and brand-new linens (donated from community partners), as well as coordinated with another agency for a car seat. In addition, the Dawning Family Services case manager referred one of Kacey and Mark’s children to the Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System,
through Hillsborough County Schools, because of suspected developmental delays.

Kacey, Mark, and their children continue to work with Dawning Family Services to maintain their housing stability. And now that they have a place of their own, Mark was able to obtain a full-time job working from home, while Kacey cares for the children and prepares for the birth of their little one. The entire family is living healthily and happily and appreciates the work of Dawning Family Services and its myriad partners who contributed to their family well-being.

One of the families benefiting from our expanded mission includes Emma, her mother Michelle, sons Aidan and Anthony, and newborn baby boy Zachary.

Emma came to us when she and her family were asked to leave the place in which they were staying, leaving
the homeless.

“I understood why we couldn’t remain. There just wasn’t enough room for all of us in addition to the other people who were living there,” shared Emma. Compounding the already fraught situation, Zachary was in NICU and Emma was worried about not having a home to return to when he was discharged.

Emma and I were blessed to find Dawning [Family Services] while my grandson was still in the hospital,” says Michelle. Adds Emma, “My mom [Michelle] is a huge help for the kids and me. She worked long hours to bring in money for the family so I could recover and spend time with Zach.”

Emma, Michelle, and the children ultimately were provided safe emergency bridge housing and supportive services by Dawning Family Services. Their assigned case manager took time to understand the family’s unique and dynamic needs. She helped to obtain childcare vouchers for all three children, located a safe and affordable apartment, and coordinated financial assistance to cover rent, security, and utility deposits for the family’s rental. Emma had a
job before she gave birth to Zach and was fortunate that the position was held for her while on maternity leave. After Emma returned to work, Michelle became the caregiver for her grandsons.

Since we last met with Emma, she has shared that she now is working a second job and has enrolled part-time
in community college. Emma reiterates how grateful she was to find a program that allowed her mother, Michelle, to be placed in bridge housing with her and her sons since Michelle is such important support. “I have been happy since day one (of coming to Dawning Family Services). You all helped me to keep my entire family together so I could meet my family’s needs.

Your past support has made it possible for us to provide Emma and other families like hers with the services they need to obtain and maintain permanent, affordable housing.

Sleeping on a park bench along with your two young sons

. . . pushing your newborn and your toddlerin a stroller during the wee hours of night trying to keep out of harm’s way . . . sneaking your family into an unventilated storage unit because that was the only place with four walls and a roof. These are not the experiences of three families who have stayed at Dawning Family Services; it is the story of one . . . Tara and
her two children, Theo and Tyler.

Tara explains, “I couldn’t stay at my mom’s house because she kept threatening me and stealing my things. The boys’ father’s house, well let’s just say that it just wasn’t the healthiest environment. I had no place where my sons and I were welcome.”

Under ideal circumstances, parenting can be a challenge. For Tara and so many other parents like her, obstacles often stymie efforts to provide for the well-being of their families. Without appropriate childcare, Tara could not sustain employment; without a job, she could not lease, much less maintain, the expense of an apartment; and without a home, she could not perform normal daily activities, including showering, preparing meals for her sons, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Fortunately, Tara, Theo, and Tyler were directed to Dawning Family Services where they were provided safe emergency bridge shelter, case management, and housing search services. While there, Tara found a part-time job at a local hospital, obtained vouchers coordinated by her case manager to place her sons in childcare, and enrolled in our rapid rehousing program, securing within ten weeks a lease in her own name for the first time in her life.

Tara shares, “The staff believed in me even when no one else did, including myself. They motivated me and reminded me of what I should prioritize and all that I could accomplish. However, they did not do the work for me. They sent me in the right direction so that I can take care of things on my own.”

Cindy was doing her best to raise her
3-year-old daughter, Ava.

 

However, Ava’s uncontrollable outbursts were taking a toll on Cindy’s health, causing the two of them to become homeless. Cindy sought help from Dawning Family Services (formerly Alpha House of Tampa), where she and Ava were provided safe emergency bridge housing and support services.

As part of the family’s case management plan, developmental screenings were administered to Ava. Results from these suggested that a referral to a medical professional as appropriate. Ultimately, a psychiatrist diagnosed her with a genetic developmental disability, now understood
as the cause of her severe behavioral and sensory disorders. A case manager referred Ava to a childcare program for children with special needs; she was soon enrolled. Since Ava was being cared for during the day, Cindy had time to focus on herself. She found a part-time job, addressed her significant health issues, and began to focus on her own well-being.

With assistance from Dawning Family Services, Cindy and Ava found a cozy apartment they now call their own. They continue to receive support from their case manager, but things are looking up for them and their future is bright.