Dakota Edwards Finds Sense of Community at Buffalo Creek Apartments

Growing up and through most of his childhood, Dakota Edwards lived with a variety of families through the North Carolina foster care system. Today, he calls Monarch’s Buffalo Creek Apartments in Smithfield “home” and is becoming accustomed to his new community.

Edwards moved into Buffalo Creek in Smithfield, apartment style living for adults healing from mental illness, in May 2021 and appreciates having a living space to call his own. He is a bit shy and quiet but reflective on his journey through foster care. He is adjusting to life as a young adult on his own for the first time.

Edwards, 23, moved to Buffalo Creek after residing at Monarch’s Windermere group home in Kannapolis. He enjoys gaming, exercising and working at his job at the local Sonic fast-food restaurant. His journey through foster care has left him with a longing for a family.

At the age of 4 years old, Edwards could no longer live with his biological mother due to her health issues. He remembers his time in foster care as “not easy.” As a young boy, Edwards was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and also has autism and bipolar disorder.

Edwards recalls stays with several different foster homes and two unsuccessful adoption attempts during his childhood. Writing letters to his mother through the years and trying to stay in touch, he had hoped to reconnect with the only family he had. He did not see his mom from 2007 through 2019 and remembers being devastated. Eventually, he did have the opportunity to meet in 2019.

“It was good to see and hear my mom,” he says but admits that the mother-son bond had been broken with stays in foster care and extended time not seeing one another.

Although he didn’t have a typical childhood, Edwards looks back and is grateful for people who offered support and the Monarch staff who are there to assist him now. “I had a lot of people that I could talk to and trust,” he explains, noting a therapist he met as a teen who he felt he could confide. “She helped me through a lot. She gave me a foggy looking quartz piece that symbolizes how my life has been rough. I still keep it and it reminds me how my life has been hard but I am pushing forward.”

At the age of 20, he moved to Windermere group home in Kannapolis. Today, he continues to work at making friends in his new community at Buffalo Creek apartments. He also visits with his most recent foster family who live in nearby Raleigh and consider him part of their family inviting him for holiday visits and celebrations.

Edwards says he enjoys the freedom and independence that being an adult offers and is adjusting to the responsibilities. “It is a lot of responsibilities like cooking, laundry and paying rent on time. I have slowly gotten used to it. I try to keep my apartment clean and organized,” he says. “I like the privacy and having my own space.”

Behavioral Specialist Princess Oates who assists the residents at Buffalo Creek says they work on budgeting and organizational goals. Residential Team Leader Denise Bizzell believes Edwards has adjusted well to supported living and feels he has the abilities to live in a home of his own: “My hope for Dakota is that he will be able to live in his own home with limited supports because he does really well now with the services he receives.”

As Edwards looks toward the future, he would like to enroll in a community college to pursue a degree in technology or computers as well as getting a driver’s license. Bizzell notes that that the staff is assisting Edwards in finding a driver’s education course to earn his license.

For more information about residential options across Monarch residences in North, please visit here. An application for housing can be downloaded and submitted on this website page.

Posted on: Tuesday March 29, 2022