AUBURNDALE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County Couple is making a difference in the community through their restaurant and foster care home for boys.
Donishia and Derrick Yarde are Auburndale natives.
“I’ve been here my entire life, which is why I’m so invested into this community,” Donishia said.
The power couple just opened the first Black-owned Firehouse Subs in the Tampa Bay area.
“If we can do it, anybody can do it and one thing about us, we’re not selfish people,” Derrick said. “We are always able to give people information to do the same thing and that’s what it’s all about.”
Derrick is the pastor of Faith Builders Worship Center in Auburndale. He also used to own a construction company.
“The fruits of the spirit allows you to understand people in general, to have love and to have patience,” Derrick said. “With that, all things are possible.”
Derrick has been in ministry for nearly five years.
Donishia is a mental health professional and owns Integrity Care Group Homes. It’s a foster care program for boys in Polk County.
“I was actually working for a woman who owned a group home and I moved me and my two kids in,” Donishia said. “However, I saw it wasn’t being done right. The kids were being fed McDonalds every night. I wanted better for them, so my mom told me I should open my own.”
That’s what she did. in 2009, Integrity Care came about.
“I don’t ever believe in doing something my heart isn’t into or involves giving back so anything I do will have purpose behind it,” she said.
It’s a passion she has that’s driven by her own past experiences.
“I was a victim of sexual molestation,” Donishia said. “I went through a lot, being homeless, I was a runner, hanging around all the wrong people. I was crying hoping someone would see I was going through a lot.”
That happened at just 7-years-old. At 16, she got pregnant.
“I didn’t want the trauma and abuse I had to experience as a child to lead me to becoming someone I know I’m not in life, so my baby, he saved my life,” she said.
Donishia made a promise to herself that she would help as many young people as she could, to avoid them from having a similar upbringing that she experienced.
“I can identify with a lot of the things the kids go through,” she said.
Now, she saves young boys by providing a home, food, clothes, support, and most of all, love.
“Being able to be that safe haven. I told them I don’t care where they are at, if you need me, you call me and I’ll be there.”
Currently, 24 boys live in her group homes sprinkled throughout Auburndale.
With the Yarde’s latest business venture, the boys in the group home have an opportunity to work at the local Firehouse Subs.
“Us owning this restaurant is able to give them that chance to give them a job so they can learn how to carry themselves as far as being adults,” Derrick said.
They continue to build up young boys throughout the area who were once torn down by their situation.
“If I can save one life at a time, that’s what I’ll do,” Donishia said.
Donishia and Derrick opened the Firehouse Subs in June. The restaurant is another way the couple is giving back to the community.
Donishia used to be a 911 dispatcher and worked closely with first responders. Everyday, the couple is able to give back to first responders through their restaurant.
The restaurant is located at 2052 US Hwy 92 in Aurburndale.
If you or someone is in need of Integrity Care Homes’ services, visit their website.