By Kristina Houck
For six months, Diana (who asked that we use only her first name) and her four children were homeless and lived in shelters.
Because of the support she received from the Family Recovery Center, a residential and outpatient treatment program in Oceanside, and DreamKeepers Project, a Rancho Santa Fe-based nonprofit, Diana and her family recently moved from transitional housing into their new home.
Diana, 45, has struggled with substance abuse since she was a teenager. She was sexually abused as a child, ran away from home at 13 years old and became a prostitute. Through counseling, education and other support services, Family Recovery Center helped Diana recover from drug and alcohol abuse, and address her past.
She has been sober for more than two years.
“Not having a good start made it difficult for me to deal with things in a normal way,” said Diana, mother of a 10-year-old, 7-year-old and 6-year-old twins. “When I first went to FRC, I never imagined I could do what I’m doing right now. I never thought I would be able to live in a home, work and do a good job tending to my kids and meeting their needs as a single mom. But I’m doing it. I feel really good inside.”
From raising funds for renovations at the facility, to organizing art and floral design classes for the women and story time sessions for their children, the DreamKeepers Project helps provide for the daily needs of the women and children who are treated at the Family Recovery Center. Through annual membership dues, mail campaigns, special events and cash donations, the local nonprofit establishes scholarship funds and GED tutorial classes, provides laptops to college students, provides layette sets for babies born at the center, collects new or gently used clothing for women and children, and much more.
“I was really ashamed being in the situation I was in when I was at the FRC,” said Diana, who is now working full-time, and is active in a 12-step program and local church. “I felt disconnected from society. I just felt normal people would not understand my situation.
“The women from DreamKeepers came in and showed such love to us, gave me so much hope and helped me realize that people do care and I’m not an outcast to society. They do so much for the FRC, the women and the kids.”
Rancho Santa Fe resident Pat Gregory co-founded the organization with her neighbor, Vera Campbell, nearly a decade ago. While teaching a parenting class at the center, Gregory began donating towels and other supplies to the facility. An ongoing supply drive eventually led to the DreamKeepers Project.
“This is one place you can see your things in motion,” Gregory said. “You can actually see your dress walking down the hall. There’s no middleman here. Everything you give us goes straight there. The women are so grateful.”
“It feels like we’re doing something for people who wouldn’t otherwise have these opportunities,” added Board President Sandi Chenoweth. “I love it when I see the smile on these women’s faces.”
In celebration of its 10th year, the DreamKeepers Project is hosting its annual membership event Oct. 7. During the event, a woman will speak about her experience at the Family Recovery Center. There will also be a cooking demonstration by Chef Jamal, executive chef at Poseidon Restaurant in Del Mar, a raffle drawing for gift baskets and refreshments.
“I’m only one woman with four kids, and DreamKeepers has made such a huge impact and had such a huge role in helping us succeed,” Diana said. “They’re changing so many people’s lives by what they do.”
The membership event takes place from 10 a.m. to noon at a private residence in Fairbanks Ranch, 6288 Avenida Loma de Oro. The event is free, but attendees are asked to bring a donation for the babies at the center. Suggested donations include: diapers, baby wipes, baby food, sippy cups, onesies, pajamas, socks, bibs, Soothie pacifiers, crib-size blankets, and head supports for car seats and strollers.
Attendees must RSVP by Oct. 2. To RSVP, call 858-756-6993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the DreamKeepers Project, visit