Helping our Community
We are all aware of the homeless situation in our country but how many of us have ever really stopped to consider that there are children who are homeless? I’ll be the first to admit I never really thought about it until I saw a CBS 60 Minutes report that aired in 2011 on this subject. I immediately took action when I first learned that approximately 964 Brevard County students were homeless; that number has since grown to over 1600. Through the Space Coast Association of REALTORS, I founded and chair the Brevard’s Children in Need Committee as well as President of our newly formed Space Coast REALTORS Charitable Foundation, both first for our Association.
Since 2011, we’ve raised more than $500,000 to assist homeless and other students with great need in every public school throughout Brevard County. The money raised has been used to meet specific needs by providing temporary housing, food, backpacks, school supplies, clothing, shoes or even glasses, to mention a few. Approximately, 8000 students needs have been met and teachers no longer need to reach into their own pockets.
In addition, throughout the year, toiletries are collected and distributed to the schools. Many kids will go to school early to shower because they either don’t have water or somewhere safe to shower. All of these efforts have helped the children shed the image of being an outsider to their classmates by allowing them to become more of an equal amongst their peers.
Out of the money raised, over $80,000 has been donated to Take Stock in Children Program, a mentoring program through our local school board providing an opportunity for deserving low-income students, to escape the cycle of poverty through education. Since 2011, with each dollar being matched by the State of Florida, 44 college scholarships have been awarded.
Partnering with a local hotel and reaching out to the community, we collectively obtained hundreds of donated prom dresses, purses and shoes, guys outfits and cash donations to purchase prom tickets. Since 2013, these efforts have allowed 800-850 students, who otherwise would not have been able to attend prom.
Every Summer, we host a Bingo Night, raising anywhere from $3,000-$5,000. The money is donated to our local Children’s Hunger Project providing food to many children throughout the summer and into the school year and our local Shop with a Cop for Christmas.
Always eager to gather my elves during the Holidays, we obtain wish lists from organizations like our local Sharing Center, Eckerd Kids Foundation and take Angels off the trees at the mall and go shopping. Since 2012, over $40,000 in Christmas presents have been purchased so that children can wake up Christmas morning to find out that Yes, there really is a Santa Claus!
We’ve expanded my outreach by encouraging my REALTOR colleagues to solicit the participation of their churches, civic groups and other clubs and organizations in our efforts to provide our homeless students a path away from desperation. Even children of REALTORS are taking actions in their schools to help their classmates.
We’re are told by the Brevard Schools Foundation my efforts have increased identification of homeless students at the school level, measurably decreased the drop-out rate of homeless students, improved attendance and reduced discipline referrals. The challenges are still here but the hope of receiving the Good Neighbor Award will strengthen this movement. It only takes a little bit from a lot of us to make a difference!
We are grateful to have any donation that you can give and thank you in advance for your consideration as our community comes together to Help a Child Go From Helpless to Hopeful!
Watch this quick video on how we got started!