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.
Helping Hands serves women with children who are sponsored for professional training so they can successfully earn a livable wage to support themselves and their family.
Support services and resources wrap around the eligible clients while they complete their certification training, course work or educational goal. Educational sponsorships are offered periodically to eligible clients as funds become available. The program’s Holiday Toy Drive also distributes toys to children annual during the holidays.
We participate in the Tampa Bay Information Network (TBIN) system which registers clients for social services and receive 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 offer space for volunteer services provided by other organizations and self-help groups, including the Veteran’s Administration and a legal services mobile unit. Volunteers also provide referrals to inter-agency services offered by other organizations.
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 a mobile health unit weekly that 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.
A core group of our community are seniors 55 and older who suffer from poor health conditions, exposure to the elements and nutritional neglect. A pilot supplementary program, the Senior Health Nutrition Pack provides specially selected, nutrient-dense foods that seniors can take with them to eat later.
In addition, they are given weekly multi-vitamin packs that contain a concentration of important vitamins and minerals, essential for combating the nutritional depletion that occurs from aging, poor health, exposure to the elements and stressful living. Funded by grants and donations, this vital program helps keep our seniors healthy our of local hospitals.
Survive the Elements Program
As donations and collection drives allow, the SVdP distributes items to help chronically homeless people, especially seniors, 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.