The Dawson family never expected to be clients of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Both parents had stable jobs, they lived in a nice apartment in a good neighborhood, their three kids took part in regular activities, and they took family vacations to Disney World.

Last summer, their lives took an unexpected turn. Dad started a new business that was slow to take off, mom was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, and the family’s cars began having issues ­– the Dawson family found themselves in an unfamiliar and unfortunate situation. They could no longer afford the lifestyle they’ve always known.

The unexpected events had a snowball effect. The bills stacked up, and they couldn’t pay their rent or utility bills. Their power was disconnected, they were unable to shower, and the kids couldn’t go to school for weeks.

Without a home, the Dawson family reached out to friends for advice. Several friends suggested finding a social worker who could help the family find a safe place to live until they got back on their feet.

The Free Clinic’s Family Residence was that safe place. In September 2018, the Dawson family had a sense of relief when they were accepted into the Family Residence.

The Family Residence was a safe and supportive place to live while they transitioned to living on their own again. They found support from the staff and other families in the program, while their kids connected with other kids in the program who were also going through the same situation.

They were able to focus on saving money and finding a place to live during their time at the Family Residence. It paid off in November 2018. The Dawson family paid their debts, found a new home, and moved out of the Family Residence.

Now, the Dawson family is back on their feet and living on their own. They credit the help and support of the Family Residence to helping them get back to their “normal” so quickly.