Her Traditions strives to be a resource for women’s financial health and to celebrate and support women as we make our dreams a reality. As we focus on the vital role strong women play in our community, we encourage you to nominate women who inspire you.
Whether she is crushing it as a business owner, lifting others as a community builder, or inspiring women through leadership — we want to hear about it! Help us shine a light on strong women by sharing their stories.
Please email stories and nominations to Nicole Shaffer, Director of Her Traditions.
Dawn Squire: A Journey Through the Lens of Resiliency
Dawn Squire has always had an appreciation for the messy moments in life that test our strength. As a Resource Specialist for CONTACT Helpline/ PA 2-1-1, she sees people tested daily in their struggles. “Everyone has different strengths,” she shares.
“What sometimes gets lost is taking the time to acknowledge people’s need for appreciation and how intrinsically that connection is tied to resiliency.”
Through her work as a family advocate, Dawn witnessed the power of acknowledging the good in others.
“I can remember students saying, ‘I didn’t know you saw that in me.’ It takes one person acknowledging you to set that spark in motion. You can’t fix someone’s trauma, but you can help them develop coping skills by focusing on their strengths.”
For Dawn, her journey to York began thirteen years ago. After living in the military, her family was ready to put down roots. Wanting to live on the East Coast near family, their search for a new community began. Their new home needed to have diversity, access outdoor spaces, and be close to a college. York, Pennsylvania, checked off the boxes on their list.
Before coming to York, Dawn had a thriving stained glass art studio. Her background as an artist helped with her new role in working with students. “Art has always opened doors as a way to connect and help people find a voice for their feelings.” She used these connections to get students to open up about their struggles.
“I worked with family members who had no one as their emergency contact,” Dawn remembers.
“At that time, the number of students struggling with homelessness or temporary displacement in York City schools was around 800 a year. I saw hundreds of students start elementary school in one building and go through several schools in a year due to unstable housing.” These statistics are what first put the need for long term housing solutions on her radar.
For four months, Dawn researched options across the United States on how to address the issue. The answer needed to include sustainable solutions that supported both the student and their family. It was essential to help students within the existing education structure. After countless interviews with other organizations, it was evident that a dormitory-style living arrangement with family programming was vital in breaking the cycle.
The idea for the Cornerstone Youth Home was born. With a strong focus on restorative practices, Cornerstone will work with each family to make decisions based on trust and compassion. The home opens in November to eight boys who will stay there every Sunday through Thursday night, during which they will receive academic support and access to other resources. Weekends are spent with families. Communication is constant, as is the stability of remaining at that school for the entire year.
As a mother of five children, a wife, an artist, and a community builder, Dawn Squire has had many roles. Through all these roles, a quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has kept her focused on the power of resiliency.
“People are like stained-glass windows… They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”
Soon a new light will shine in our community through Cornerstone Youth Home. And it is thanks to a strong woman who shared her light with others.