ORLANDO, FL, USA – Community Reach is a non-profit organization based in Orlando, FL. The organization was set up with a mission is to improve the lives of families experiencing homelessness by providing sanctuary, support, education, and resources that empower them to achieve greater self-sufficiency.
Community Reach is the brainchild of an amazing person, Keri Spence. She heard about the crisis going on in Osceola County. Pre-COVID, there were over 800 transient children in the school system (meaning they didn’t have a home). These children were either on the streets, in shelters, or hotels.
In August 2020, the number jumped to almost 1300. Keri assisted in delivering food and other essential items to these families without homes. Volunteers “adopted” this community and have helped them find jobs; helped some get driver’s licenses or bus passes that allowed them to get better jobs; and helped in countless other ways that most would take for granted. Keri continued even further by collecting furniture and household items to help house these families and show them there was a better way of life.
Keri decided she was going to BE THE CHANGE. She helped these families find self-respect and show their children a better life. There were a lot more families that needed help, thus Community Reach was born.
The team at Community Reach realizes that when it comes to providing services to the needy, a “One Size Fits All” strategy simply doesn’t work. They tailor their approach to meet the needs of each person who approaches them for help. As a result, they have a growing list of happy beneficiaries sharing their individual experiences about how they benefitted from the organization’s initiatives.
“I am grateful for everything you have done… We have more than a roof, beds, and food… Many blessings to every person that has helped us,” says Christina, a beneficiary.
Community Reach services all of Central Florida and partners with other non-profits to help feed, educate, and meet the needs of homeless families.
They have many programs to help with the larger needs of their families.
Their Mobile Outreach program is the most utilized, where they provide meals and other necessities to homeless families.
Transitional Living is another program where they work with families to get temporary shelter, find stable jobs and then move to a permanent residence.
In their Educational Program, they coordinate with other non-profits to provide educational and life skills needed to families in need.
Better Together is another initiative, where they follow-up monthly for the first year after permanent placement. They provide Care Packages, Counseling, and Letters of Encouragement to their families.
“One of the many reasons why our families love us is because we don’t treat them as just another number on our list of beneficiaries. We get to know them personally because their requirements are as personal as it gets. They can always count on us,” says Keri.
There is a need for social service providers who understand the daily struggles and pains of homeless. Community Reach is doing all it can to help families get back on their feet and become contributing members of the community once again. They continue to see a surge in demand for their services since they began their operation.
As part of its long-term strategy, Community Reach is focusing on building a new community village, that will serve to provide the necessary support system to marginalized families. Similar programs in CA and in TX have been hugely successful. Community Reach plans to replicate the success story of these programs by implementing them in FL.
Keri wants to end homelessness as a long-term effect. She believes there are four ways communities as a whole can do that:
• Resist the urge to criminalize homelessness.
• Build an Inclusive Community
• Donate their Time In the Community to End Homelessness
• Implement Permanent supportive housing
Highlighting the future plans of Community Reach, Keri says, “One of the ways to end long-term homelessness is with inclusive communities and supportive housing. By creating a community where similar families are helping each other, it will give them strength and encouragement to be their best selves. As we say, it takes a village – help us build it.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities or how you can contribute towards their mission, send an email or reach out via the website (https://communityreach.com/).