Beginning in 2007, our team of volunteers have been
able to start by working in food pantries, feeding many families a week and within 18 months increasing this to feeding thousands.
Our team started an education program by bringing on board volunteer teachers to do G.E.D classes.
Soon to follow were scholarship programs for those
students who could not pay for their test. Computers and G.E.D books were donated for our program through
the board of education. Also, a group of volunteers came together to tutor students who needed help on any subject they were struggling with.
For the community we formed a basketball team with the local youth. We were given a grant which then was used to build the community their own basket ball court and pavilion. This grant also allowed us to purchase a truck, lawn equipment, pressure washer and a 12 ft. trailer. This was used in order for the youth within their community to go out and clean up the neighborhood. This was a great way to have those needing to work on their community service hours to make a difference and learn a trade.
Our team then added Government Assistance, Social Security Disability, Food Stamps, Food Distribution and
USDA certification. Then we continued outreach into homeless camps. We resourced them with clothing, sleeping bags and tents. By using wireless laptops this allowed us to resource them for assistance.
Intelligent Kindness (IK John Tesh) became a part of our outreach for the homeless camps. They did this by donating new tents, sleeping bags, boots, socks, blankets, food and back-packs for back-to-school students as well as bus tickets home for people.
We received the Honorary Mayor’s Award for work done throughout the community. The Trans Siberian orchestra gave $1 towards every ticket sold from their concert to our outreach. Their donation which totaled $18,900 was received during the concert on stage.
A United Way grant was received for emergency food. We put in place a transportation program with a group of volunteers to give rides to those in need of medical services, drivers’ licenses, social security cards, medication and also helped people relocate (move). Furniture that was donated was distributed to those in need of beds, tables, dressers, household accessories etc.
We also stood in with youth in court and worked with them until their probation was completed.
We were asked by the Pasco County project manager and Executive Director (Eugene Williams) of the Coalition for the Homeless if our team would accept a position as outreach coordinators. The Coalition had been established for over 23 years and never had an outreach team. So we joined them and formed a team to go out and resource the homeless community or those one pay check away from being homeless.
A new HMIS coordinator, Web design/Photographer and two outreach team leaders were brought on to work the camps in Pasco County. We then had to put together a team of volunteers to do the 2011 and 2013 Point in Time count. Upon doing the count, more than 26 million dollars was given in grants putting Pasco County second in place for funding (Dade County came in first.)
After the count we found that we had 2,000 students and 1,500 adults living in motels. This brought to our attention that something needed to be done, so the executive director called a meeting with the School Board, Social Workers, Human Services and HUD to try and figure out what could be done with this problem.
We then took the list of 60 families in motels and started the Students in Transition program (S.I.T.).The social workers picked out the most vulnerable families and approached them with funding to move them into permanent housing; thus far this has been a great success.
We then were given a Challenge grant “Housing First,” to take 15 of the most vulnerable homeless people and get them into housing. We then worked with Bay Care for their mental and medical needs. We have placed 15 people into housing making this a very great success.
We were also a part of the Common Ground 100,000 Homes campaign. Since this time we have also done the first “Homeless Connect Event”on the east side in Pasco County. This is an event that brings all agencies and providers to one location in order to make it easier for people to receive the resources they need.
The event resourced over 600 people. Food, clothes and haircuts were ways of reaching out and making a difference.
There was music, raffles and media/television journalists reporting on the success of the event.
We worked with all Coalition members training them on the day-to-day process with information they needed in order to help with resourcing their clients. For example, Access Florida, HMIS program, understanding the HPRP (Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Re-housing Program.) There were several different grants that we had available to help them move forward in rebuilding their community.
We were given four interns from the Saint Leo University to mentor for a period of 400 hours. We had no problem putting them to work! We moved our interns right into the Samaritan Project located in Zephyrhills, Florida. It was there where they learned how to resource a client with food assistance, help with food distribution, intake forms for the HMIS data, intake for the shelter, work in our homeless camps, and also help plan and put together the “Homeless Connect,on the west side, causing this to be our second event" which also was a great success.