Dave came to Hibiscus Shelter in 1990 at the age of four. He and his two younger siblings were found abandoned at a local motel in Okeechobee. Although Dave was young, he has vivid memories of his time at the Shelter. “I have fond memories of Hibiscus. I particularly remember getting the things that I didn’t get at home like feeling safe, enough food and being clean. It was late at night when we arrived at the Shelter and we were hungry. Staff offered us as many donuts as we wanted. This was the first time I ever experienced having excess food. The staff were wonderful, they comforted me when I was sad and hugged me which meant the world to a scared child.”

To Dave’s surprise, Hibiscus staff celebrated his birthday during his stay. He recalled feeling valued and important when he was allowed to choose pumpkin pie because he didn’t like cake. “I was always worried about being just a number, I didn’t feel like I mattered to anyone. As a child I didn’t understand that the kindness and love shown to me during my stay at Hibiscus was intentional. I realize now that these were deliberate acts aimed at making me and the other children feel cared for and significant.”



Today, Dave is an advocate for facilities like Hibiscus because of how they made him and his siblings feel. He has a family of his own and is a successful businessperson in Chicago. Dave used his challenges and difficulties to build a solid foundation in life. He has owned and operated several catering and food related businesses and currently owns a bagel shop with plans to expand in the future.


Dave acknowledges the role of his past struggles in shaping his resilience and determination to succeed but attributes some of his success to the support and care he received at Hibiscus. He is grateful for the impact Hibiscus had on his life and for the services Hibiscus continues to provide children who need a safe haven.


CEO Matt Markley said, “Hibiscus was privileged to have Dave share his inspiring story. His words underscore the vital work being done by Hibiscus as well as the impact on children. Through his perseverance, Dave overcame tremendous adversity and built a successful future and loving home for his children. Hibiscus helps kids imagine what a better life can be. Dave is the perfect example of this.”


Please visit us at for more information about Hibiscus programs and how you can get involved to help children and youth

Pam Larrick, Cathy Cronin, and Susie Kintner presented guest speaker Dave Miller with a gift.