UPDATE: FOX 5 viewers step forward to help family in need - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

UPDATE: FOX 5 viewers step forward to help family in need

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WASHINGTON - FOX 5 viewers saw the story of a local family in need, and they’ve stepped forward to help.  They were touched by the story of a student who is thriving despite incredible adversity, and their generosity is making a difference for the family’s future.

Joe Smith, a FOX 5 viewer, saw our story on Asianna Joyce.  She’s a FOX 5 newsroom intern who attends George Washington University on a full scholarship.  Her FOX 5 family was shocked to learn that her real family is homeless, and her siblings and mom are living in a friend’s tiny apartment.  

Smith was watching FOX 5 earlier this week and saw an interview with Asianna and her mentor, Dana Jackson.  The story was part of an initiative called Mentoring Monday.  

“I saw them on the news,” Smith said. “I saw your story and I was having the house redone and I thought I'd try to help if I could.”

On Friday, Smith took Asianna’s family through a home he owns.  His tenant just moved out. Smith is willing to give the family a major break on their rent.  

Smith did more than just offer the family a roof over their heads.  He welcomed them into his heart.

“Well, people have helped me,” Smith explained.  “Over the period of my lifetime, people have helped me. Why not help somebody else?”

Asianna’s mom, Ayanna Hawley, was thrilled to see a giant field next door, and a bus stop right out front so the kids can get to school.

Because of the family’s story, Smith tells FOX 5 he has also been inspired to sign up to be a mentor.  

Meanwhile, another FOX 5 viewer, Michael Davis, couldn’t bear to see Asianna’s siblings crammed into one room in someone else’s apartment, sleeping on the floor.  So, he donated an air mattress.  

“I was moved by the story,” Davis said.  “Everybody needs help.”

While FOX 5 viewers have been incredibly generous, there is something else that Ayanna Hawley really needs: employment.  She’s looking for a job now, hopefully as a receptionist, accounting clerk or payroll clerk.  

Hawley says putting her family back together is her main focus right now.

WATCH: Mentoring Monday feature - Asianna & mentor form lifelong bond


A FAMILY IN NEED

"There's this feeling of excitement that I'm graduating from college at GW, but then there's this feeling of, wait-- when I graduate, where do I go?" Asianna explained.

One place it's clear she cannot go is to the small room in someone else's southeast D.C. apartment where her five younger siblings and her mother live.

Just two days after Asianna graduated from high school in 2010, her family was evicted from their northeast D.C. home.  She says words can't describe how that felt, especially when all of their belongings were put out on the sidewalk as their neighbors watched. 

Asianna says she was upset that her mother didn't share the details of her situation with her before they were evicted, because she could have tried to help.  Her mother says she didn't want to put pressure on her daughter. 

Asianna admits there have been times when she has felt like she was the grown up instead of her mom. 

"There was a time where I was basically like the mother of all the children, and sometimes I felt like the mother of my mom too, at times, because she had kind of given up on life."

But even when her mother struggled, Asianna didn't give up.  In her dorm room, she created her dream wall-- including a picture of the kind of apartment she'd like to have, and her dream car-- a Nissan Altima.  She also included a photo taken during her internship at FOX 5. 

So while some kids are complaining, Asianna appreciates things you might not expect.

"I feel blessed to have this space to come and have privacy and be comfortable and have shelter."

But with her shelter comes guilt.  Asianna says she feels bad that while she comes home to a dorm room, her siblings are sleeping on the floor.  Her five brothers and sisters and her mother share one borrowed room in a friend's apartment. 

Asianna's mom has struggled with depression.  Last year, she had a stroke, emergency surgery and a long hospital stay-- all setbacks that she says contributed to their homelessness.  She says it's hard to count all of the places that her family has stayed, and it was very hard to explain to her children that they are in fact homeless. 

Asianna hasn't told many of her classmates about what her family is going through, but she has started talking about it.  She started a mentoring group for D.C. school kids, because a long-time mentor helped her. 

She has this advice for those who want to see their dreams realized: "Write down whatever you want to do, remember it and go after it.  I guarantee you'll get it, whether you have to hop through a window or take the easy way and go through the door.  You'll get in there."

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