Day One Update 3

Dear Day One Friends,

With the support of many, we have made amazing progress since our last update. Along with generous financial support, the many volunteers, community organizations, professional speakers, families and friends have helped make this progress possible, and we thank you.

Five families have successfully completed the first 12 weeks of programing and moved into housing on July 1st! We were able to move our families into Naomi’s Place, a converted house that formerly was a home for women in recovery. The house includes five, 2-bedroom, well-maintained apartments in a convenient location for our families.The families are enjoying each other and are developing a real support system. Together, we are all learning about the process of organizing lives and resources to enable the pursuit of long-term goals and stability.

Our initial 12-week session included speakers and programing to provide information to help our families settle in and prepare for the work ahead. We have had success connecting our families to resources, counseling, and career possibilities and have provided programing for parenting skills, financial responsibility, health management and stress reduction. The second 12 weeks of programing will begin August 1st and our wonderful partners are excited to continue to work with the families. Our partners include the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), The Maya Organization, Planned Parenthood, PA Stars, and The Early Learning Institute (TELI).

Two of our guest speakers from the first session, Carla Young, a professor and academic counselor at CCAC, and Dani Camp, a registered nurse and an active member of the Black Nurses Association, have taken their involvement to another level. Dani is recruiting fellow nurses to provide each Day One family with a “Health Coach” to assist in managing health and wellness. Carla has returned with speakers and graduates from CCAC as well as providing counseling on programs, financial aid, and study skills.

We are very happy to report that we have received our first grant from the Opportunity Fund, which will provide $10,800 a year for 3 years to support the housing for one family. We are near completion of grant applications to the Heinz and Hillman Foundations, which may put us in a position to employ a part-time staff member to support the project. The organizational planning and applications process has been accomplished with the support of our consultants from New Sun Rising.

We plan to send our Fall Fundraising mailer and we hope you will continue to support our efforts as we will be working hard to expand our support base. We are working with an ad firm who has donated their time and talents to create an organizational logo and we are in the early stages of website development. Lastly, we hope to plan an event this fall to raise our profile in the community.

As excited as we are, there is much work ahead. We are steadfast in our commitment to our Day One families and are committed to improving our program every day. We remain humble and open minded in our approach and are fortunate to have community partners and individuals who see the transformative power of what we are doing. Again we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking this journey with us.

A BIG THANK YOU FROM OUR FAMILIES

Remmington, Ranaa, Lilly, Kaiya, Erica, Henry, Chyna, Carmen, Rhileey, Raeyah

Best and Many Thanks,
Muzz Meyers and the Day One Team

Day One Update 2

Dear Day One Friends,

Thanks to your generosity and support, I have great news to share. On April 1st the Day One Project officially commenced programming with 3 families for our first Saturday education session. The 3 families attended an orientation session after completing the required screening, application, and formal interview process. As we continue to meet with more families, we hope to fill the class to 5 families  in the near future. At this point, we have talked with17 families, but only 4 have made it to the formal interview. All others have self-selected out of the program by not returning the application or not showing up for a scheduled interview.

The participating families will attend 12 weeks of programming before meeting eligibility to be placed in housing. The programing includes parenting, early childhood education, financial literacy, physical and mental wellness, and career and education planning. The hope is to have 5 families in housing by July 1.

There is also exciting news on the housing front.  It looks promising that we will partner with Naomi’s place, a non-profit that had previously provided housing for women in recovery. Due to changes in HUD funding, they can no longer use their 5 two-bedroom unit building for their program. This partnership will allow us to have all of our families under one roof, in quality apartments, in a good location. We will also have a landlord who is committed to our mission. We are currently working out the details of this arrangement.

Please see a brief introduction to our families below.

Ranaa’s son Remington is 2 years old and was born during her senior year of high school. Ranaa persevered, graduated from high school on time, and is currently a sophomore in education at Duquesne University. Her current lease ends soon and she is having difficulty balancing school, work, and caring for Remington. Day One will allow her to focus on school and Remington and ease the stress that housing uncertainty brings.

Chyna’s daughter Tao is 4 months old and was born shortly after Chyna graduated from high school. She is currently living with her mom, working in home health care, and hopes to obtain her RN degree. She attends Day One programming on Saturday mornings after working a 12 hour overnight shift. She is highly motivated to be independent and would like the opportunity to have a space to grow as a person and a mother.

Erica’s son Henry is 15 months old.  He was born premature, diagnosed with a brain abnormality, and spent the first 3 months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Erica was forced to quit her job, move back with her parents, and spend all of her time and energy caring for Henry. Henry is doing very well and Erica is ready and anxious to resume her independent life. Day One will provide the support she needs to get back on track.  

All of these young women have shown a commitment to their future and a determination to better themselves and their families. Hopefully with the help of Day One education, housing, and emotional support we will watch them thrive. 

As we start the real work of this project there will be days when the task seems daunting and complicated beyond belief, but as I often remind myself that is NOT a reason to back away. Through our successes and setbacks we will remain committed to providing these families with the opportunity they deserve. Thank you for helping us turn this idea into action.

Muzz Meyers and the Day One Team

Day One Update 1

Dear Day One Supporters,

Happy New year to you all! We are extremely grateful for your support of the Day One Project.  This letter is the first of our quarterly emails to keep you up-to-date on our progress and how your financial support is helping to get our project up and running   

While checks from generous supporters continue to trickle in, our initial private fundraising effort raised over $80,000! Four donors have committed to donate for an additional four years, totaling $23,500, which is a great start for years two through five.  We have hired a local consultant to help us strategize a long-term approach for foundation support as well as grant writing assistance.  The Heinz and Pittsburgh Foundations have expressed interest in the project but are hesitant to step forward due to our lack of a track record. We are committed to moving forward with or without them.

We continue our search for real estate. At this point, we do not plan to take on the burden of owning five single-family dwellings, and we have yet to find a suitable five unit building.  Currently, we plan to house our initial families in scattered site apartments, similar to the arrangement with our initial family.

We plan to begin programming with five families in March. They will be required to attend three months of successful programming before being placed in housing. Our hope is that our first five families will move into Day One housing in June, 2017.

As with any new venture, we expect a few adjustments along the way, but we are committed, determined and excited to move forward and thanks to you, we have the finances to make this happen. We plan to have an awareness and fundraising event sometime this year. We will be reaching out to all of you at the end of the year with the hope of having your continued support for year two.

Thank you for your help in changing the lives of our Day One families.

With Gratitude,

Muzz Meyers and the Day One Team