Through the Eyes of a Child – Deantá
When 11-year old Deantá and his 8-year old sister arrived at Dayspring Center in March 2008, they were already familiar with the heartbreak of losing a home. Six months ago, their mother dropped them off at their grandfather’s house and never returned. Unable to provide for her children, the grandfather gained temporary custody of his two grandchildren in January. A few weeks later, he lost his job and, in a matter of weeks, lost his home. As he contacted local emergency shelters, only Dayspring Center was able to accommodate his nontraditional family, especially one with a boy older than 7. Within days of their arrival, Case Manager, Carol, noticed how the grandfather tried to make life as normal as possible for the children. He kept them on a regular schedule of completing their chores, doing their homework, then free time. “I’m trying to get some stability because my grandchildren have been through a lot”, he commented at that time.
After a few weeks, the family settled in to the daily routine at Dayspring Center. While the children were in school, the grandfather actively sought employment and began to receive much needed medical attention for chronic health problems that had been ignored far too long. Deantá and his sister were doing well in school but the taunting from his peers for living at the shelter was difficult to bear. Carol commented, “Deantá was very intelligent and open. He often visited my office because he just needed someone to talk to.”
So the children would not be at home alone over the summer, Carol enrolled Deantá and his sister in Dayspring’s Camp Discovery, an 8-week summer program for homeless and formerly homeless children. There, they would participate in daily educational, recreational and social activities designed to help them discover their special talents and skills and prepare them for the coming school year. During one of the workshops with partnering organization Asanté Chidlren’s Theater, it was discovered that Deantá had a knack for acting. Months later, he would perform in one of the Theater’s main productions.
By the end of May, the economy was struggling, unemployment was on the rise and the grandfather was unable to find a job that would provide the income needed to provide for his family. The Case Manager at Dayspring Center enrolled the family in a program with a Dayspring partner where they could live in permanent housing and receive rent and utility assistance giving them more time to stabilize.
Less than a year after entering the program, the grandfather was able to find employment and soon after moved his family into a home of their own. Through Dayspring’s Follow-up Program, Carol continued to provide resources and guidance to the family during a difficult transition. In less than 6 months, however, the family had established a stable, healthy and happy home and no longer needed support services.
Last August, Deantá very confidently spoke (without a script) to over 300 people at Dayspring’s “Through the Eyes of a Child” Breakfast. His story was simple and direct.
“Ms. Lori (Executive Director) and Ms. Carol (Case Manager) made me feel at home at Dayspring Center. I don’t know where we would be right now without their help.”
“I get all A’s in school. I really like Math. Today, we have a house, a backyard and a dog – life is really good!”
Someone in the audience asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” With his endearing smile Deantá replied, “An engineer. Maybe even build some bridges!” There was no doubt in the mind of everyone there that someday it was exactly what Deantá would do.