Event to highlight homelessness
An opening ceremony, followed by a Homeless Service Day and Stand Down, will be held today to mark National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and to help bring attention to those who are in need in Lee County.
The ceremony will be held from 8:45 a.m.-9 a.m. at the Broadway Community Church.
The opening ceremony will include a presentation of colors, invocation, National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and a proclamation read by County Commissioner Brian Bigelow in honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week for Nov. 15-21.
The Homeless Service Day and Stand Down will be held immediately after the opening ceremony on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bartos explained that Stand Down is a military term that refers to an opportunity to achieve a brief respite from combat, adding that the troops would gather in a base camp to receive a variety of services.
“Our hope is by providing these services we can break the cycle and get people back on their feet, take a shower, get a hair cut and get clean clothes so they can get a job interview,” Lee County Homeless Coalition Executive Director Janet Bartos said.
“We hope we can alleviate the struggles people are facing and to bring awareness with the week,” she said about the event. “Our mission is to advocate, educate and promote awareness.”
She said the event is all about helping those who are in need by providing them with connections.
“Some of the services can help them get back on their feet,” she said of the agencies that will be present at the event.
She said the event will provide food, hygiene kits, backpacks, flu shots, hair cuts, information on VA benefits and referrals for substance addictions.
Harry Chapin donated 6,000 pounds of canned foods that the coalition will hand out to people as they leave, Bartos said.
The agencies which are signed up for the Stand Down event include Labor Ready, Housing Authority of the city of Fort Myers, the Salvation Army, Family Health Centers, Lee Mental Health Center, Florida Rural Legal Services, St. Vincent De Paul, Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Harry Chapin Food Banks, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Eternal Homes, The Thureos Group, Career and Services Center, Health Department, Lee Memorial Health Systems, Department of Veterans Affairs, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Community Cooperative Ministries, Sickle Cell Disease Association of Lee County, Social Security Office and the Division of Motor Vehicles.
“A lot of folks are coming out to help and give away little freebies hoping to make a difference,” she said.
Bartos said this is her third year of holding the event and it has been extremely successful in the past.
She said she is expecting about 400 people to attend the event this year, compared to 300 participants from the previous year.
The Broadway Community Church is located at 3309 S. Broadway in Fort Myers.
For information call (239) 322-6600.