By Tracy Louthain
In January, Habitat for Humanity of Walton County held its 60th home dedication for a very special mom of four. Unlike other home dedications, this dedication was held in partnership with Warrick Dunn Charities, and included a very special surprise by former FSU running back and NFL star Warrick Dunn.
A dedicated single mom of four, Shakisha McDonald, became a first-time homeowner thanks to Walton County Habitat for Humanity, and thanks to Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) she received a life-changing surprise. While the new home was earned and financed through Habitat for Humanity, Aaron’s provided $10,000 worth of home furnishings, turning an empty shell into a move-in ready dream home. Additionally, WDC was able to provide a $5,000 down-payment assistance check and ensure the home was fully stocked, thanks to additional assistance from Stronghold SOF Solutions, and Ryan Jumonville and Raven’s Ranch.
This event marked the 210th home celebration nationwide by Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC), the former NFL star’s non-profit organization that identifies single parents across the country and helps them achieve their goal of first-time homeownership as part of its “Homes for the Holidays” program.
“We are extremely grateful to partner with Warrick Dunn Charities for a second time,” said Habitat for Humanity Walton County Executive Director Teresa Jones. “Shakisha is extremely deserving of this incredible gift. Our houses would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, volunteers and board members. Through our partnership with WDC, this house became a true home for Shakisha and her family!”
When she isn’t caring for her four children at home, Shakisha supports hundreds of kids from the community as a program director at the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast. She and her children have been living in a dilapidated rental house with rodents, a leaky roof and septic tank issues. Now, she is moving into a brand-new home with everything she and her kids have dreamed about. From children’s toys, video games and a new computer to a pantry full of food, laundry room filled with essentials and a house full of furniture, Shakisha and her kids were wowed by the surprise.
“There are no words to express how it feels to come home to something like this, said new homeowner Shakisha McDonald. “The one thing I want my kids to understand is that nothing is just handed to you. You have to work for it.”
Dunn told Shakisha this is her reward for the many hours she and her children invested in building of their home. His goal is to help break the cycle of generational poverty by providing a hand-up, not a handout, to single parents and their children.
Dunn started WDC’s Home for the Holidays in honor of his late mother, Betty Smothers, a Baton Rouge police officer who lost her life when Dunn was only 18 years old. She was a single parent who worked tirelessly to achieve the American dream of homeownership. Today, he has helped 210 single parents’ dreams come true.
Affordable housing is vital to local families. Habitat for Humanity Walton County is proud to build homes for partnering families and make a permanent impact. Over a hundred volunteers and sponsors made this home possible. Habitat would like to thank those who assisted in this process and their investment into their community.
One hundred percent of donations made to Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, FL., 501(c)(3) non-profit are allocated towards the homes built for the local community. To learn more about future volunteer opportunities and other Walton County Habitat events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.