Empowering Change: All For One
Children right now in Seminole County are carrying the weight of wondering where their next meal will come from, if they will sleep in a safe bed, or if they will have a roof over their heads.
Instead of focusing on what children should have the opportunity to enjoy- like school, friendships, or which pair of shoes they should wear that day- children are growing up in poverty, and living in a cycle of becoming impoverished adults. In Florida alone, over four million children are living in hardships, hunger, and homelessness.
A recent study focusing on children experiencing poverty uncovered key findings on the number of children growing up in financial hardship. The report, produced by the United Way of Florida states, “The reality is that 36 million children in the U.S. — 49% of all children — lived in a household with income below the ALICE Threshold of Financial Survival in 2019. These households included families in poverty as well as those who were ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households do not earn enough to afford the essentials of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan, and taxes — the basics needed to live and work in the modern economy.”
Consider *Elijah’s story. His life turned upside down after his mom passed away. For several weeks, nine-year-old Elijah had been living in his dad’s car. When Elijah’s after school program teacher learned of his situation, she immediately contacted the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office quickly got to work, using their Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST) program. COAST works to engage the community, and bridge the gap between the homeless population and support network of partners. The Sharing Center is part of that network.
When President & CEO of The Sharing Center (TSC), Nina Yon, was notified by COAST of Elijah’s situation, she immediately worked with TSC’s Senior Program Manager and the rapid re-housing partner, Central Florida Home For Good, Inc, to prioritize Elijah and his dad’s application. The two organizations worked together to pay for bridge housing in a hotel, until Elijah and his dad moved into their permanent home.
Their apartment now feels like a home, thanks to COAST’s team picking out furniture from The Sharing Center’s Furniture Store. Elijah and his dad now have the chance to live with a giant weight lifted off of their shoulders. Elijah can “worry” about the things that a child should. His dad can rest assured knowing that Elijah will have a chance to grow up in a stable, healthy environment as they move forward together.
Our community truly came together in order to help light the way for this family. The different partnerships we have in Seminole County stop at nothing to help the one child, one father, one mother, one elder, one veteran, and one person. The Sharing Center is so blessed to be a part of Elijah’s story. Learn more about the ways you can get involved by visiting thesharingcenter.org.
*Real names redacted due to minor status