In Her Shoes

“Even though she’s had transportation limitations, she has maintained employment for her family – no excuses. She takes buses, walks, and even pays for late-night cabs to get to and from work, and she never complains about it.”

-Cheryl Clunk,
Director of Family Services

This year on January 26th there were 1,367 individuals who identified themselves as homeless in Sarasota County. 251 of them were children from 126 different families – families like Dawn’s.

In the five years that Dawn has lived in Sarasota County, she has struggled to find sustainable housing for her family, and she is not alone – nearly 30% of those measured during the 2015 Point-in-Time Survey identified the lack of affordable housing as the primary cause for homelessness. Even when her family did find housing after their first stay at the shelter, issues beyond their control with the landlord and neighbors forced them to start all over again.

In addition to working two jobs and raising four children, Dawn is just a few credits away from completing her nursing degree. She’s setting a great example for her children who are all thriving in school with excellent grades and attendance records, despite the adversities the family has faced in the last few years.

Dawn was originally referred to Harvest House by the Family Haven Alliance – a coalition made up of five of Sarasota County’s leading social service organizations as a result of Dr. Marbut’s recommendations from two years ago. She saw an advertisement at the bus depot directing families in situations similar to hers to call 211 for help, so she did. During her time at Harvest House, she and her family were given a safe, affordable place to stay as well as access to case management and various support services.

Dawn’s husband moved to New York last week and it was the first time the family has been apart for an extended period of time. It was a difficult decision to make, but they didn’t want to pass up an opportunity for their family to be stably housed. Through a family connection, Dawn’s husband was able to secure a job working in construction. The job’s perks include a home for the family and a work vehicle for him. Dawn will be able to transfer her job at Wal-Mart and continue working after she and the children move this week.

Because a generous donor gave us a used car, we were able to give Dawn her first car since moving to Florida. She now has transportation to New York where she will rejoin her family! Dawn could barely hold back tears when we handed her the keys. She told us that she hasn’t owned a vehicle in over five years due to financial struggles.

If it weren’t for our generous supporters, all of the services and goods we provided for Dawn and her family would not have been available. If you are interested in learning more about Harvest House and how you can get involved, we encourage you to contact us.