A helping hand is just what someone needs in their darkest times. One Erie-based organization has been providing a helping hand for almost 30 years. 

Without a doubt, Marie Blumish says Erie DAWN saved her life.

"I was drinking a lot and really had no will to live," said Marie. 

The Erie native told Erie News Now she was evicted and almost homeless. She is now working to be a peer mentor to other women in the same situation.

She is one of thousands of women Erie DAWN has helped since it started 29 years ago. The non-profit was spearheaded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Sisters of Mercy, and the Benedictines.

"We provide transitional housing, support services, case management," said Dr. Susanne Kuligowski, Executive Director. 

Doctor Sue, as she calls herself, is the Executive Director of the West 18th Street-based effort in Erie.

It's a place where homeless or potentially homeless women can come to self-refer or be referred to.

"They have to be 18 and over, single working women. They can be with children, without children," said Dr. Sue. "They have to have an income each month of $1,200 or more to be in the program."

And there are two programs: rapid re-housing or homeless prevention. Marie chose homeless prevention and had to find housing.

"After that, I had to agree to monthly budget meetings, weekly phone calls to see how I was doing, provide my paychecks to show that I was working and sustaining myself," said Marie. 

This home in west Erie is one of several under the operation of Erie DAWN. One of the homes was gifted to the organization in 2020 from the Sisters of Saint Joseph. That was also the same year that Erie DAWN became its own entity after being a sponsored ministry. 

The organization relies on partnerships, grants, donations, and money brought in through community events to help with educational and life skills programs, and secure safe and affordable housing for women.

"We partner with a large variety of landlords in our area," said Dr. Sue. 

Erie DAWN staff are the first call a client makes when they have a housing or program question. The organization is always looking to increase its landlord pool and welcomes donations.