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. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell during a hearing to review the guardianship cases once overseen by Traci Hudson, who faces criminal charges in one of those cases. Hudson was not present during Wednesday's hearing in a St. Petersburg courtroom. Pinellas sheriff's detectives say she stole more than $500,000 from an elderly man for whom she held power of attorney. Court records show she was appointed as a guardian in about two dozen cases. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Traci Hudson had served as guardian overseeing the affairs of 26 people until her arrest on a charge of exploitation of the elderly. Her handling of those cases will be reviewed.
  2. St. Petersburg and Tampa both earned perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Municipal Equality Index.
    It was the fifth year in a row for St. Petersburg and the second for Tampa.
  3. Bob Larson, 81, from St. Petersburg, raises his hand to indicate he has a match while playing Bingo during a meal with fellow seniors in Langer Hall at the Sunshine Senior Center in St. Petersburg. Also present (but not pictured) is his wife, Janet Larson, 74. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas funds 15 congregate dining sites in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The sites offer hot meals and socialization for 6,000 seniors. The Sunshine Center is one of those sites. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Seniors are happy in their communities, but have concerns about health care, housing, transportation and support for caregivers
  4. The tenth annual Shopaplooza returns to St. Petersburg for the Thanksgiving Day weekend, but this time at the Vinoy Park and with major changes. LocalShops1
    The annual festival highlighting everything local was previously held at Straub Park. But that’s not the only change this year.
  5. Photo of the sign of the Skyway Marina District in St. Petersburg. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
    The newest is being built on the site of the former Flamingo Resort.
  6. Enterprise Village in Largo is celebrating 30 years this month. The facility, which provides hands-on education about economics, has served generations of children across the Tampa Bay area. In this photo from Nov. 7, fifth-graders from Safety Harbor Elementary School begin their day at the village. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    More than 400,000 kids in the Tampa Bay region have gone through the program, which offers a hands-on look at the free enterprise system.
  7. Students at Dunedin Elementary welcomed teacher Stephanie Whitaker back to campus the morning after she was named Pinellas Teacher of the Year in February 2012. The 2019-20 winner will be announced Jan. 29 at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Ten finalists have been selected. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  9. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  10. Bicyclist Steven Weldon was struck by a white sedan while pedaling along the Pinellas Trail earlier this month. St. Petersburg Police Department
    Steven Weldon could have exercised more caution, according to St. Petersburg Police, but won’t face any charges.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement