More than Meals: Food AND A Future
There's a common saying
"there but for the grace of God, go I."
In reality, it's more "common" than said: 57% of working families cannot afford a $500 emergency. A few days cut from work, a sickness of one of the breadwinners, a car breakdown or accident, a child hurt on the playground: all can cause a financially devestating domino effect which puts good, hard working people on the street.
Regardless of how people arrive at our door, they are greeted with a full array of services to address their basic needs.
But beyond food, SVdP now provides a "path" off the streets. It's Food AND A Future: Training and skills for jobs, a 4-week intensive job readiness program showing stability and reliability to future employers, placement assistance and on-going support and case management for up to two years.
150 Meals X 365
The day starts early. Volunteers begin arriving as early as 4:00 AM. They know that when dawn arrives, more than 150 individuals will show up - many from a night on the street. Beyond the traditional "soup kitchen" guests are treated to a full meal, a warm welcome, a place of respite and respect. Towards the end of the month, many residents who face regular food insecurity (not enough in their paychecks to cover food) also join us. Parents, too, who sacrifice their own evening meals so that there is food on the table for their children.
We participate in the Pinellas Homeless Management Information System (PHMIS) through the Homeless Leadership Alliance, which registers clients for social services and provides identification cards. We distribute bus passes for doctor's appointments and clients seeking employment. We also provide a postal address for receiving mail and packages.
We provide clothing vouchers for the SVdP Thrift Store, and toiletries and hygiene products. We connect them with resources, including addiction services, mental health counseling, medical care, housing assistance and job placement
We provide facilities for over 5,720 hot showers a year with soap, shampoo, conditioner and towels. We offer clothing and free laundry facilities to clients to maintain personal hygiene and health. We distribute wheelchairs and glasses from community donations. We host Pinellas County Health Services' Mobile Medical Unit weekly which evaluates client health needs and provides referrals to health services available to eligible clients in the community.
Additionally, medical volunteers are on-site on Tuesdays.
Health & Hygiene
S.T.E.P. for Seniors
STEP (Survive the Elements) for Seniors (also weekly) provides clothing and gear to assist homeless clients in compensating for the health and safety deficits incurred by chronic exposure to environmental conditions while living outdoors. The gear provided includes insect repellent, sunblock, lip ointment, deodorant, medicated pain creams, hand sanitizer, first aid kit products and antibiotic ointment. Tarps, flashlights, ponchos and umbrellas are provided as needed.
The Senior Citizens Services fund through Pinellas Community Foundation has provided grant funding for this program, as well as the Sr. Nutrition program.
A core group of our community are seniors 55 and older who suffer from poor health conditions, exposure to the elements and nutritional neglect. The Senior Nutrition program consists of weekly distributions of megavitamins and vitamin/mineral-enriched foods (protein drinks, nutrition bars, single-serve cereals, salmon/tuna, fruits, etc.) that are sustainable for a homeless senior who has no access to food storage or refrigeration.
Thanks to a grant from Pinellas Community Foundation's Senior Citizens Services fund, we are able to provide this vital program which keeps our seniors healthy and out of local hospitals.
Survive the Elements Program
As donations and collection drives allow, the SVdP distributes items to help chronically homeless people, survive against exposure to the elements. Critical items include: socks, survival whistles, insulated thermoses, rain ponchos, used/refurbished or mended backpacks, and sleeping mats.
S.T. E. P. bags containing lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental pick, deodorant, hairbrush, face/body anti-bacterial wipes, washcloth, disposable razor, and sunscreen are given to help maintain hygiene and healthier living.