March HOPE Heroes
Dawn - HOPE Shelter Director & Kristina - HOPE Program Director
Dawn was born in Delaware and moved to Florida when she was six. She graduated from Southeast High School here in Bradenton and received a Bachelor's degree in Human Development from Eckerd College. She is married and has two daughters. She has been a HOPE employee since 2000. Dawn started as a part-time Shelter Advocate for her first year, then when HOPE had an opening for a full-time advocate, Dawn quickly applied and the shelter manager promoted her immediately. She excelled in the roles of being a Shelter Advocate, Transitional Housing Advocate, Advocacy Director, and now the Shelter Director. Dawn has been with HOPE for almost 21 years! We like to tease her that she was only 5 when she started.
Kristina is from Buffalo, New York, and moved to Florida to be closer to her family. The timing was good as she was leaving an unhealthy relationship. She went to school in New York for business but decided she wanted to work in a field that would help people feel good about their lives and be the best they could be, so she went back to school and graduated with a degree in Mental Health Counseling. She began working with HOPE as a volunteer in 2002, conducted her internship for her Master’s in the counseling department, was later hired as a counselor, and is currently our Program Director. Kristina just celebrated 17 years as a staff member and can easily show the countless lives she’s helped change for the better!
What have you learned while on the job?
Dawn: That we are more alike than we are different and remembering that keeps me grounded.
Kristina: I have learned the importance of listening. By listening well, we are able to better assist participants.
What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?
Dawn: It’s simple, just being a kind voice and listening ear when needed.
Kristina: Remember, this is about the participants.
What motivates you to work with this organization?
Dawn: No matter what area you are working in, we are all part of the bigger picture.
Kristina: I agree with HOPE’s mission and believe that what we do makes a difference in our participant’s lives.
Describe yourself using only film titles.
Dawn: The Pursuit of Happiness.
Kristina: Sometimes… “It’s a Disaster,” but mostly “Life is Beautiful” and trying to look “Up.”
What would your pets say about you if we asked for a reference?
Dawn: I don’t have a pet yet but my future pet would say I’m a little slow and I need to come to find them.
Kristina: My girl would say, “My mom is very patient because I love to sniff everything!”
Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?
Dawn: Holidays and family events. I’m a big kid at heart and I get so excited about spending time with my loved ones and giving gifts.
Kristina: Going on vacation to somewhere I have never been before.
Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Dawn: The shores of La Jolla Beach in California.
Kristina: Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in New York state in the Fall.
What’s your pizza order?
Dawn: Ham, pineapples, and olives for sure!
Kristina: Pepperoni and extra cheese.
We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!