NCCSF fills an existing — and largely unfilled — need in this largely rural area. Hernando County, with a current population of 186,553, apparently has a homeless population estimated at 7500. Of the 21,800 children in Hernando's public schools, 3500 or 16% are homeless. These are the people whom NCCSF serves.
The Nature Coast Community Services Foundation seeks to serve this constituency by providing life supporting food, clothing, shoes, transportation, OTC medicines, counselling, and guidance not to keep the homeless in their current situation, but to help them lift themselves out of their poverty and back into being productive members of society once more.
The NCCSF is guided by the key value that every human being matters. This value generates our three core values: recognizing that homeless people are assets; that our work and the interaction we have with them is rooted in compassion; that we see homeless people as fellow teachers who offer to us both life experiences and an exceptional ability in caring. top->
Nature Coast Community Services Foundation provides essentials to help stabilize individuals (food, clothing, shoes, bedding, personal care items) and then it provides transportation to job interviews, to school and doctors, to Social Security or DMV to replace lost ID cards. And much more! We provide individual guidance, informal counselling, an enthusiastic cheering section, a friend to talk to in times of doubt, and someone who can give a sincere hug if a hug would help, or a gentle scolding if it is needed. We provide a way up and out. We provide hope.
All it takes is time, a dedicated group of volunteers, and money.
So how is Nature Coast Community Services Foundation doing?
To date, we are getting one person a month on average out of the woods, into a paying job, and into permanent housing. But for every person whom we help escape homelessness, another one or two find us.
The NCCSF's mission is to identify and help fund social needs existing in Florida's Nature Coast region that are not adequately addressed by existing governmental or private organizations.
We work to get people with severe mental or physical problems on disability. We work with the VA to find homeless veterans permanent housing.
But no matter whom we serve, our goal is to return them to being productive members of society again. top->
(toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, tampons, razors, shampoo, soap, antibiotic cream, anti-itch creams, anti-diarrheal products, bandages, insect repellants, hairbrushes and combs, hair ties, toilet paper, etc), clothing, tents, bedding, and medical treatment for the many homeless men, women, and children living in our area including the 16% of our public school students living in cars, sheds, or abandoned huts in the woods as well as hundreds of adults (including PTSD disabled veterans approved for VA-assisted housing) living in abject poverty in the woods for lack of low-income housing.
With our partners, People Helping People and Challenger Irrigation, we provide two hot meals a week plus bags of groceries. As many of the people we serve do not have access to food stamps, this food is critical to their physical and mental well-being.
Water is a life-or-death need for everyone, but many of the local sources of water previously available to the homeless have been shut off to discourage their presence. Hence, the water we provide is critical to their well-being and can be lifesaving. (Thank you, Unitarian Universalist Church in the Pines of Weeki Wachee)
Often the only "family" they have left. We believe when we care for their pet, we are caring for the human being as well. Hence, with our partners' help, we provide dog and cat food on a weekly basis, (thank you, Pet Supermarket for donating the food), flea and tick prevention treatment on a monthly basis, and spaying/neutering services (thanks to Compassion Spay and Neuter of Pasco County and PetLuv of Brooksville) as well. After all, these pets often provide the homeless person's only source of love, companionship and protection.
So they can qualify for a social security card which is required before getting a job. We also offer counselling; financial literacy training; transportation to and from doctors' appointments, job interviews, as well as food stamp/child support/and social security offices; and job training (thank you, CareerSource) enabling them to rejoin society.
We have, in the first six months of 2019, gotten eight individuals (one less than a month old, one with severe mental illnesses, and one travelling with a beloved dog) who were stranded in our area, back to their home towns and preexisting family support. We thank our partner, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, for their generous assistance in this effort.
By providing each homeless person with an adult mentor who provides coaching, advice, encouragement, and practical assistance in navigating the difficult path back to self-sufficiency.
Each week we bring the apothecary which is filled with over-the-counter medicines and supplies to make their lives easier. We also drive the homeless to medical appointments and to hospitals in case of medical emergencies, as well as coordinate vaccinations to combat hepatitis with the local Hernando County Health Department. We coordinate with the High Point Lions Club to get prescription glasses for each homeless individual needing vision correction, with Pasco Hernando State College for basic preventive dental work (x-rays and cleaning), and with the Crescent Clinic for basic medical care, psychiatric treatment, and dental extractions.
So homeless people can get themselves to their own appointments without relying on our volunteer drivers, and to increase their independence. To this end, we distribute public service announcements asking our service area to donate unwanted bicycles which we then turn over to our partner, the Grace Presbyterian Bicycle Ministry, to rehab. Once the donated bicycles are road-worthy, we distribute them as needed to the homeless population. top->
Pets are a lifeline for the homeless. Often estranged from their families, about half the homeless population has a pet because pets provide unconditional love, companionship, and protection. Pets also give them a reason to live, a reason to get up in the morning. Pets listen without judgement and snuggle without asking. They teach caring and responsibility, and are comfort animals in every sense. top->
Like most charities, NCCSF is universally undercapitalized. Hence we rely on our partners to help us help the homeless. Among those partners are People Helping People, the High Point Lions Club, the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Pines in Weeki Wachee FL, Pet Supermarket, PetLuv of Brooksville FL, Compassion Spay and Neuter of Pasco County, CareerSource, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, The Hernando County Health Department, Crescent Clinic, and Challenger Irrigation.
Without their help, our work would be much more difficult and we thank them most sincerely for