Meet Dawn: Her Story, Her Words

Written by Workhorse Marketing

Judge Cowan, Dawn & Paul Nye

In 2006, Dawn Nye spoke to the audience at our first annual gala and told her story.  As an abused child, she saw more than her share of foster homes and shelters that did not work out. Then she came to the Austin Children’s Shelter.

Dawn Nye’s Story

When I was eight years old, I was taken from my dysfunctional and seriously harmful home. 

While our family was investigated and the courts decided what would happen to us, my sisters and I were taken to a shelter.  The shelter seemed to just be a place where we ate, slept and waited to find out what would happen to us: No one seemed to really care about us or how we felt.*

After some time, we were placed in a foster home. Although we we lived for the few years, it was not a safe place. I tried to report what happened to my sisters and I while staying there, but  it was three years before we were finally removed from this second dangerous home.      

Then I met someone who genuinely cared for me – Judge Scott McCown. Judge McCown was one of the first people who actually listened to what I had to say.  He cared so much that he took me back to his private chambers and let me tell him my concerns.  After I told him about my experience at the foster home, he knew I couldn’t return there. Instead, he told me I would be going to a shelter. Based on my experience at the previous shelter, I didn’t want to go back, but I resigned to it. 
I arrived at Austin Children’s Shelter and soon discovered that all shelters are NOT ALIKE!  Years later when my adoptive mom asked me what Austin’s Children Shelter was like my immediate response was that it was a happy place, a fun place, a loving place, a safe place!  The staff wore smiles on their faces and seemed genuinely interested in who I was as a person.  They believed in us, and interacted with all the children there.  We got to go on great field trips and even had one-on-one time with the staff!

I was there several weeks and before being placed in yet another foster home with my younger sister. Once again, that foster home didn’t work out and I soon learned I would be going back to a shelter.

My question was:  Would it be Austin Children’s Shelter?  Yes! I was to return to Austin Children’s Shelter and I was so relieved and  happy to go back there.  Again my feelings and experience were the same.  It was a happy place! A fun place! A loving place! A safe place! And, a place where I had many friends and familiar faces among the staff and volunteers, who welcomed me with open arms and let me know they were glad to see me.

My time at Austin Children’s Shelter made a huge difference in my life: it gave me hope. The staff helped me begin to believe in myself and I know my time there helped me to find courage and love.  My experience at there had a positive affect on me during a very crucial time of my life.  I feel very passionate towards the Austin Children’s Shelter and have told my husband that if we were to live in Austin, I would want to either work or volunteer at Austin Children’s Shelter.  I would love to give, and give, and give again in some measure what they have given me. 

When I left ACS, I was better equipped in many ways to start again.  The staff helped me prepare to make it work in a good foster home.  I was given the opportunity to go next to a wonderful foster home, to parents who have now adopted me as their own. 

Because I was so supported and motivated, I was able to accomplish so many goals while growing up in this foster home:  I played several instruments in band; and I played on the volleyball team, the basketball team, the cross country team and the golf team.  I was given the award for outstanding golfer of the year, which began a fine romance and love for the game of golf.   All four years in high school I won outstanding golfer of the year and outstanding band student of the year.  During my senior year, I won a college scholarship and was crowned Miss Rockdale, by Miss Texas.

I realize that I may or may not have accomplished these things just because of spending time at ACS, but I do know that the staff helped me overcome many challenges during a difficult time in my life. The staff, volunteers, and others who believed in me throughout my journey, helped me to realize I deserve the best that life has to offer!

Today, I have a rich life A life full of promise.  I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter – who, thankfully, will never know the trauma of child abuse or neglect. 

Austin Children’s Shelter is worthy of your thoughts, your consideration, and your support.

We at Austin Children’s Shelter are delighted to have shared in Dawn Nye’s journey and are humbled that she feels we are worthy of our community’s thoughts and support. By choosing to entertain Dawn’s wishes and consider supporting Austin Children’s Shelter today, you are choosing to support kids who have stories like Dawn’s–kids who just want the chance at an independent life.

*There was one exception: A volunteer who made such a difference that she is still in Dawn’s life today.