Last week, former NFL running back Warrick Dunn gave school teacher and single mother Valencia Archie and her four sons the surprise of a lifetime. When the Archie family arrived to move into their new home in Augusta, Georgia, they found not only Dunn there to greet them but also a fully furnished house, including a stocked refrigerator and cabinets.
Dunn partnered with Augusta Housing and Community Development, Aaron’s Inc., Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia and Peach State FCU to carry out the project. While the Archie home is the first that Dunn has helped furnish in Augusta, the donation marks the 169th family Dunn has supported through his organization Warrick Dunn Charities and its “Homes for the Holidays” program.
Inspired by his single mother, a Baton Rouge police officer killed when he was 18 years old, Dunn launched the “Homes for the Holidays” program in 1997 after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Often partnering with Habitat for Humanity, the program helps single parents around the U.S. afford homeownership-related expenses, like down payments and furnishings.
A tribute to Dunn’s late mother who worked two jobs but never owned her own home, the program serves as one of Dunn’s greatest joys. Despite operating the program for over two decades now, the magic of giving back and changing lives still remains the same for Dunn.
“It’s still a blessing, it’s still life-changing, and I’m still thankful because that feeling never gets old,” states Dunn. “It’s about creating a stable environment for the kids, and if we can create an environment that gives them a sense of safety and security so that they have more confidence when they go to school and they perform better, they’re more involved in their community.”
Retiring from the NFL in 2009 after 12 years in the league and now a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Dunn engages in his local community beyond his foundation too. For example, during Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta this past February, Dunn served as captain of Team ATL, a crew of 10,000 hospitality volunteers who welcomed visitors to the city for the festivities.
Time will only tell how many more lives Dunn and his “Homes for the Holidays” program, as well as the organization’s nutrition and wellness education, financial literacy, and scholarship programs, will have transformed by next year’s Super Bowl!