Warrick Dunn knows what it’s like to grow up with a single parent – and without one. When the former running back for the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a senior in high school, his mother, a police officer was killed while working an off-duty security shift. At 18, Dunn was left to raise his five younger siblings.
During his rookie season, Dunn was advised by Coach Tony Dungy to serve the local community. He took the advice to heart, establishing Warrick Dunn Charities in honor of his mother. The nonprofit helps single parents working to achieve financial stability for themselves and their children.
“My mom, her dream was home ownership,” said Dunn. “I wanted to relive her dream through the single parents we serve.” In the last 16 years, the organization has done just that, assisting more than 100 single parents and 300 children primarily in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Tampa and Dunn’s hometown of Baton Rouge.
The signature program of Warrick Dunn Charities is Homes for the Holidays, which provides single parents with down payment assistance to purchase homes built by Habitat for Humanity. The program also supplies food, furniture, basic necessities and furnishes every room of the home as a surprise to the families. “It’s a priceless moment,” said Dunn. “When I first started, I didn’t really understand the impact. Years later, it’s an emotion that makes me speechless.”
Bank of America has provided funding and volunteers to Warrick Dunn Charities since 2010. Dunn is a two-time recipient of the bank’s Local Hero award – winning in Tampa in 2010 and Atlanta in 2011.
The connection has grown stronger since, primarily through volunteer work in Atlanta. Bank employees have decorated homes for the charity, taught financial literacy classes to home recipients and sponsored a reunion in Atlanta for all the families who have benefitted from Homes for the Holidays. Georgia Market Manager Cheryl Lomax currently represents Bank of America on the charity’s Board of Directors.