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 2020, Dawning Family Servicers (formerly Alpha House of Tampa) is proud to share that we:

  • Provided emergency bridge housing for 129 adults and 192 children
  • Served 90 families through our post-bridge housing support services
  • Housed 64 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
  • 76% 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
  • 20 children received Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) developmental screenings and were at or above their developmental milestones and ready for school.

Our Success Stories

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.