Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. St. Petersburg

Former Buc Warrick Dunn surprises St. Pete single mother with new home

The retired Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back partnered with Habitat for Humanity and others to give a hardworking nursing assistant and her son the home of their dreams.
Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn spends time with new homeowner LaToya Reedy and her son, AnTrez. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 29

Click here to read this story in Spanish

ST. PETERSBURG — LaToya Reedy always dreamed of being a homeowner but it seemed unattainable.

As a single mother to her 18-year-old son, AnTrez Reedy worked hard as a certified nursing assistant to provide a stable lifestyle for him, but the unpredictability of renting kept her living paycheck to paycheck.

“I got tired of paying the high rent,” she said, “and with renting it goes up every month.”

The constant increases in rent forced Reedy and her son to move into a tight, overcrowded living space with her mother. For two years they shared one room with her mother and rotated sleeping on the bed, and shared one bathroom with five family members in the household.

But on Tuesday morning her dream came true.

Thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties and its partnership with furniture company Aaron’s, healthcare provider Cigna, and former Buccaneer Warrick Dunn’s nonprofit, Warrick Dunn Charities, Reedy and her son received a fully-furnished two-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

RELATED: Habitat for Humanity to build its largest affordable housing development yet in Pinellas Park

Habitat for Humanity bought an empty near Childs Park and built the home, which spans nearly 2,000 square feet, while Aaron’s donated $10,000 toward furniture, appliances, and interior design, and Cigna donated $10,000 towards down payment assistance and groceries.

Single mother LaToya Reedy and her son, AnTrez, moved into a new home on Tuesday thanks to Warrick Dunn and Habitat for Humanity. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]

Reedy, 39, knew she would get the keys to her first home, but she was surprised to see it fully furnished with appliances, furniture, lawn equipment and electronics, and a kitchen stocked with groceries, a coffee maker, a Nutribullet and other cooking supplies.

“Oh my God this is beautiful,” she said as she walked in the front door. “I love it. This is everything.”

Overwhelmed with emotion, gratitude, and support from a crowd of people including her family, close friends, and community partners, Reedy was shaking and fought back tears as she thanked everyone who played a part in changing her and AnTrez’s life.

“Being a homeowner now, I can be at home,” Reedy said.

“I can be at peace. I can bring sweet memories to my house and I can have my family and my friends over. I have a home now, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted for my son, and for myself.”

But before Reedy received her new home she was busy helping other families get theirs.

She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity helping to construct other homes and completed more than 350 sweat equity hours, which surpasses the 300-hour minimum required as part of Habitat’s homeownership program prior to purchasing and moving into their Habitat home.

Candidates must also show a demonstrated housing need (overcrowding, unsafe, unsanitary conditions, etc.), meet income-related guidelines, and must be a Pinellas resident or worker for at least one year, among other qualifications.

When her turn for homeownership came, she thought she had an idea of what to expect, but she was continuously surprised.

In addition to a fully furnished home and stocked pantry, Cigna presented her with a stack of Publix gift cards amounting to $5,000 to keep her kitchen full of groceries and supplies.

“That’ll keep her out of Bonefish,” said her mother, Linda Reedy, when joking about her daughter’s obsession with the restaurant.

This marks the sixth home presentation in Pinellas County and the 173rd home presentation nationwide thanks to Warrick Dunn Charities as part of its “Home for the Holidays” initiative, which helps single-parent families achieve homeownership.

Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn, right, spends time showing LaToya Reedy, center, and her son AnTrez Reedy, left their new home near Childs Park in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

And for the retired running back, helping single parents like Reedy and seeing the joy they have achieving homeownership is therapeutic because it’s something he wanted for his own mother, a single parent of six kids who worked two jobs to make ends meet as a police officer and a security guard.

His family never got to see that joy after his mother was killed just days before Dunn’s 18th birthday. Instead, he became the father figure and raised his younger siblings while pursuing a football career at Florida State University and then moving on to play in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997.

“Once I started going to counseling I realized that I was on cruise control and just going through it that I didn’t have time to mourn," Dunn said.

“I just had to put my head down and get it done. I was just so focused on making sure that I could take care of my brothers and sisters, so that was my driving force."

But now, he gets that joy through his charity and every family that benefits from his program.

“I’ve used this program as therapy,” Dunn said. “Every time I hand over those keys there’s a little piece of my mom and the things she wanted.”

And in every home, he leaves a “piece” of his mom by giving the families a baked apple pie, which was his mother’s favorite dessert.

Reedy, who said she doesn’t cook, appreciated the heartfelt gesture and got emotional as Dunn guided her through the home.

“It’s been a long, hard journey,” Reedy said. “Struggle and sacrifices, but we made it.”

Contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com or Follow mo_unique_.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A sign seen on the front door of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in March, after owner Tom Woodard stopped serving drinks with plastic straws. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday night to ban single-use plastic straws. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The City Council tweaked its own ordinance banning single-use plastic straws, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
  2. Apollo Global Management has offered $130 per share for Tech Data's stock in an acquisition worth $5.4 billion. If regulators shareholders approve, the home-grown company will remain based in Pinellas County, where it employs 2,000 of its 14,000 workers. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Private equity firms like Apollo create wealth for pension funds, financial institutions and individual investors by buying assets that typically are sold later at a profit.
  3. USF student Gabriela Young is the owner of Earth and Ivory, an online jewelry business with items made out of clay.  [Special to the Times | Sarah Foster] SARAH FOSTER  |  Special to the Times | @sarahtheartiste
    Gabriela Young went from selling bracelets to friends to making clay wares for customers with her business, Earth and Ivory.
  4. Celina Okpaleke conducts a choir singing traditional African songs during an African Mass at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Tampa on Nov. 10. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    November is Black Catholic History Month, a time to learn and share stories about the intrepid and devout.
  5. St. Petersburg's single-use plastic straw ban kicks in starting Jan. 1, 2020. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    The City Council on Thursday is set to adopt some tweaks to the ordinance, including making all straws by-request-only.
  6. St. Petersburg's new 26-acre Pier District, with components that will include a coastal thicket walking path, marketplace, playground and pavilion, is nearing completion. Shown is the tilted lawn in front of the Pier head building that is being created  with Geofoam, soil and grass. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    St. Petersburg hopes to sell naming rights in the Pier District — available for annual payments of $50,000 to $1 million for 10-year terms — to help offset taxpayer subsidies.
  7. The Pinellas County Commission moved closer Tuesday to granting a total of $20.6 million to three museums: the Salvidor Dali Museum (top), the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center (bottom left), and the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Photos courtesy of Pinellas County
    The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History and Tampa Bay Watch are on track to receive bed tax dollars for expansions.
  8. St. Petersburg police Assistant Chief Antonio Gilliam is one of three finalists for chief of the Tallahassee Police Department. Gilliam has spent his career in St. Pete but was born and raised in Tallahassee. [Courtesy of Antonio Gilliam] Courtesy of Antonio Gilliam
    Antonio Gilliam, who oversees the department’s investigative services bureau, said he couldn’t ignore an opportunity to lead his hometown police department.
  9. Northwood Plams Boulevard in Wesley Chapel has been closed for six months for sewer repair, and residents are ready for it to reopen. After a couple delays, Pasco County expects the project to be complete by the end of the week. Times File
    A Wesley Chapel reader wants to know when Northwood Palms Boulevard will reopen.
  10. Shown here are photographs of damaged parking meters along Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. Those responsible for the damage were arrested Friday evening, according to city police. Times
    Three times in two weeks, police found city parking meters damaged with foam. Now a man and woman are in custody on felony charges.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement