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Daniel aims for strong finish to Furnish Their Future campaign

Daniel House Asking For Community Help With Renovations
Daniel House Asking For Community Help With Renovations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Daniel is in the final stage of its Furnish Their Future Campaign to raise $150,000 within 150 days to furnish one of its on-campus residential treatment cottages to help youth who have experienced trauma and also have intellectual and developmental differences.

Daniel, the state’s oldest child serving agency, has started renovating the Creekside-Cedarwood Cottage, a unique space in Jacksonville that serves a group of the city’s most vulnerable children.

The Cottage offers specialized services for children who have suffered from severe trauma and also have intellectual differences.

Daniel, the state's oldest child serving agency, has started renovating the Creekside-Cedarwood Cottage, a unique space in Jacksonville that serves a group of the city’s most vulnerable children. (WJXT)

Director Cathy Taylor puts her heart and soul into her work. Each child she counsels at Daniel has a painful story. There’s one 9-year-old she worked with many years ago she still thinks about often.

“He came to us running away, physical aggression, verbal aggression, some sexual inappropriate behaviors at 9, so that touched my heart most of all,” says Taylor.

Taylor’s goal is to turn it around and walk with them down the long road to recovery.

“He was able to go back home, back to the family and successfully -- today he’s still with that family remembering what we taught him,” says Taylor.

Outcomes like this help her do the emotional work, day in and out. Taylor says the kids appreciate the little things because they help them get through the unimaginable things.

“Sometimes when they come, they don’t have any hope. They’re at their last wit,” Taylor said. “It’s heartbreaking for us. A child should not be at their last wits.

So when their home gets a makeover, Taylor says it’s like Christmas morning. That is the reaction the kids had when the Haynes Cottage was renovated more than 30 years ago.

“They walked in like, ‘Oh my god!’ Because it was fresh and new, and the floors were new and the cabinets in the kitchen and living area,” Taylor said. “They don’t want anybody to walk on the rugs. They tell all of our guests, ‘You can’t walk on the rug.’”

Now on the other side of the Daniel campus, that same work is happening at the Creekside-Cedarwood Cottage.

The Furnish Their Future Campaign was launched earlier this year. The goal to raise $150,000. They’re close but still $50,000 away. Taylor has hope that the dollars will keep rolling in. She keeps her eye on something that 9-year-old left behind when he was ready to leave Daniel.

“I have rock on my desk that he gave me as a little tiny pebble that he found. He came in my office and said, ‘I have something for you.’ And I said, ‘OK, what is it?’ He opened up his hand and he said, ‘This is a rock. This is a rock of hope.’ It just gives me goosebumps thinking about it,” says Taylor.

Daniel Director Cathy Taylor holds a "rock of hope" she was given by a 9-year-old boy. (WJXT)

People who want to help can’t donate furniture because Daniel has hand-picked furniture that works well for kids requiring intensive psychological and behavioral support. However, by donating money toward this need, the community will be doing more than paying for furniture, they will be helping to build a refreshed environment of hope and healing.

The 150-day Furnish Their Future initiative launched mid-February and was supposed to finish mid-July, but they have more to go. To help, Mrs. Delores Barr Weaver recently offered a challenge grant through the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida to help Daniel reach their goal. The fund will match individuals’ donations dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 through Aug. 1.

To give or learn more, visit danielkids.org/future.


About the Author:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.