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NEW ALBANY — Thanksgiving leftovers were on the menu for David Levine on Friday. He said he likes cooking for himself, his brother, Jason, and his grandmother, Dawn Hoosier.
They’ve been cooking with their grandmother since, “how old were you?” Dawn asked. “About 5,” David said. Now David is 15 and Jason’s 13. They go to school nearby and live with Dawn, but it wasn’t always like that.
Life’s thrown a lot at the trio over the years. Dawn had to take on a custody battle to prevent the boys from going from their parents’ care to the state’s. They’ve battled homelessness, tough times and more. She said being a grandmother and trying to raise two teenagers isn’t easy, but she’s happy to have them. “We go toe to toe sometimes, but I love them and I wouldn’t change any of it,” she said.
Dawn said over the years, David and Jason have lived with her for most of their lives. That used to include her husband, but she said his substance abuse led to her leave that environment.
Furthermore, issues with the boys’ parents led to a custody hearing. Dawn took in the boys and their mom, her daughter, and tried to make everything work.
“It just wasn’t an appropriate environment for the boys to be in,” Dawn said. “About two years ago, we had to go to court and apply for temporary custody for them to be in my care.”
She’s worked to make sure they have a better place to grow up, and has secured housing through the New Albany Housing Authority. They still need a few things to fill out the space, but she said she’s grateful to have a stable place for all of them to stay.
Through everything, Dawn said she wants stability for the holidays, for her and the boys. She said the boys cook and they enjoy a few TV shows together. Whether it’s “Empire” or “Family Feud,” they gather together as a family most days.
David said he likes to go to the library with his friends sometimes, just to hang out or use the internet. Dawn said Jason likes to play basketball or hang out with his friends outside, or sometimes go over and play video games.
But they also like to get creative. David said he likes to write poetry, which sometimes turns into rap. Jason said he’s better at it than his brother. When he writes, Jason said he wants to express what he’s been through. “I want people to know my struggle,” Jason said.
But he’s got his eyes on the future. The middle-schooler said he wants to be a musical artist, involved in culinary arts or something else.
Dawn said she’s proud of her grandsons and glad she’s taken them on by herself. She said part of that comes from her own grandmother rubbing off on her.
“I guess it would go back to my past, with my dad getting a divorce from my mom and her leaving the five of us on his doorstop,” Dawn said. “He turned to his mom, who helped him out. She didn’t raise us, but she helped raise us while he worked as a truck driver, and she instilled that in me.”