Giving Hope & A Smile

As a part of getting involved in advocacy for helping the homeless, we decided to volunteer at Pinellas Hope, a homeless shelter in Clearwater, Florida. We went into the facility with the idea that we were going to serve people food, however the experience turned out to be so much more. Instead, we were given a tour of the facility by a wonderful and beautiful woman by the name of Angie. Angie is a formerly homeless woman at the shelter, who now volunteers her free time at the facility, helping out wherever she can. Angie showed us around what is known informally as “Tent City.” She told us that Pinellas Hope  could facilitate about 300 people and truly do all that they can in order to assist everyone that walks in the door. Each person, once accepted into the facility, is assigned a case worker who helps out each person on a case-by-case basis in attempts to help them get their life back on track. They help each individual look for a job, get into the right rehabilitation places if needed, help them secure disability or Social Security payments, and even offer to help them get training if they have been out of work for a while. Pinellas Hope provides a roof over each person’s head and offers 2-3 meals a day, based on what was donated each day.

Catholic Charities Pinellas Hope

We spoke with six people individually who opened up their lives and shared the journey that led them to PH. While two had fallen into drug habits that led them to the facility, the rest were involved in a series of unfortunate events, mostly revolving around the poor economy. Something that really stuck was that the people we spoke with had smiles on their faces, even with the amount of diversity that they were faced. Two men, Robert and Bob, spoke about how much they loved a church that they had started going to as of recently. A couple we spoke to met in the facility, fell in love, and are moving into their own apartment and getting married in the upcoming year. Angie, who was so open as to show us her apartment where she is living now, spoke of how utterly grateful she was for her life, saying that no matter how rough things got for her, she was always able to help around the facility doing chores and odd jobs for other people. Her upbeat personality and constant smile was such an inspiration of hope for the others around her.

(From Left to Right) Eloizy, Angie (our amazing tour guide), Sama and BriannaAt Pinellas Hope

Angie was a strong supporter of the belief that a person needs nothing but time to help another human being. The facility has no means to cook on location, but rather relies on groups and organizations daily to bring in food for each meal. This is where the general public is able to get involved. There is something available for every person to do in order to help these people. The most important thing that can be donated is your time. Spending time with these people and helping around the facility is the most treasured gift given. However if you do not have the time to offer, nonperishable food items and money can be donated to any of the organizations in your facility. Some of the facilities and organizations in the Tampa area are listed below, as well as a website that will allow you easy access to what facilities are in your area.

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