Pay It Forward Friday: Warrick Dunn Charities
Helping families thrive socially, economically and educationally
Warrick Dunn grew up the oldest of six children in a single-parent household. His mother, Betty Smothers, was a Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officer who worked tirelessly to provide for her family – and to one day realize the dream of home ownership. Tragically, Betty was killed during an armed robbery when Warrick was only a senior in high school.
Moved by the outpouring of support following his mother’s death, Warrick promised to one day give back to the community that had given so much to him and his siblings during their time of need.
Despite his dire circumstances, Warrick went on to graduate from Florida State University, where he also laid the foundation for a successful football career. And after being drafted in the first round by the NFL in 1997, Warrick began delivering on his promise. He hasn’t stopped since.
For the past 16 years, Warrick Dunn Charities has focused on providing programs and services for single parents who are committed to achieving stability for themselves and their children, making a difference for 125-plus single parents to date – along with more than 300 children. In 2012, Warrick Dunn Charities expanded its service to include a mobile children’s bereavement program in Baton Rouge, LA.
Changing and Saving Lives
Through our Homes for the Holidays program, now in its 16th year, Warrick Dunn Charities has helped 127 single parents and 344 children continue to achieve long-term stability as a homeowner.
Homes for the Holidays rewards self-sufficient single parents who are actively trying to improve their lives through financial independence. By providing down payment assistance when these parents are ready to buy their first house – and then furnishing those houses with everything a first-time homeowner needs – parents are given the unique opportunity to establish a positive home environment where their children can thrive educationally, socially and economically.
In addition to the Homes for Holidays program, we are expanding our reach with a children’s bereavement program. Named in honor of Warrick’s mother, Betty’s Hope will assist youth who have experienced the tragic loss of a parent or loved one to violent crime and help them to manage their grief and heal in an environment that’s relevant and responsive.
Betty’s Hope is offered as a free community service to the city of Baton Rouge, La. The Mobile Hope unit is a unique, innovative rolling grief support resource that will bring the Betty’s Hope mission and vision for grief support into neighborhoods and schools. The program is available to schools and community centers to access on a scheduled basis, and according to the specific needs of the Baton Rouge community sites and liaisons.
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