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The Sheltering Tree, Flagler’s Homeless Shelter, Holds Fundraiser for Center Sunday

| September 11, 2012

The Sheltering Tree at Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church becomes an overnight homeless shelter on nights when the temperature is predicted to fall blow 40. (© FlaglerLive)

“How can so many of us go to sleep each night in Flagler County in spacious homes and comfortable beds knowing that there are so many homeless people with no suitable shelter?” asks Milissa Extrom, Board of Flagler County Family Assistance Center’s Sheltering Tree. “With the economy in such a difficult condition there are just too, too many folks that are homeless in our community,” she hastens to add. “We need more services and we need them now.”

The Flagler County Family Assistance Center’s Sheltering Tree, a non-profit coalition of individuals, faith based communities and service organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry, providing shelter on cold nights to the homeless while helping them transition to permanent affordable housing and preventing at-risk individuals from becoming homeless will hold its “Steps to Success” Fundraiser at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Hammock Community Center, 79 Malacompra Road, off State Road A1A in Palm Coast.  The event will feature a home-cooked luncheon followed by performances by the Flagler School of Dance, The Enchanted Caravan, Northeast Florida Academy of Dance, Hanalei Dancers and the Mia Bella AThe She;tering Tree, Flagler’s Homeless Sheltercademy Dancers. The event is open to all. Tickets are available for $25 by calling (386) 517-7305.

The “Steps to Success” event is the beginning of a campaign to raise funds ultimately to acquire a location in Flagler County to house a Drop-In Center. The center will be available to help homeless men and women by providing a centralized location where they can come to get the tools necessary to reenter the work force and achieve independent and productive living.

The Sheltering Tree already works with resources throughout Flagler County and on cold winter nights when the outdoor temperature is predicted to be below 40 degrees. The organization, staffed entirely by volunteers, provides immediate help with meals, open and available bathrooms with towels and toiletries, emergency food staples and a clothing closet. The shelter is hosted by Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church.

The shelter.

With immediate needs met, the volunteers help to connect the homeless with housing services such as the Florida Department of Children and Families, Flagler County Human Services, Family Life Center, Family Renew, Salvation Army, STAR Family Shelter of Halifax Urban Ministries, Family Promise and the Veterans Administration. Everyone involved in FCFAC and The Sheltering Tree are unpaid volunteers. “Every penny donated to our efforts, goes to feed , clothe and house the homeless,” she says.

The Drop-In Center is expected to help the homeless connect with the resources designed to help them but may be somewhat difficult to access for people with no addresses, no telephones, no place to receive mail. Not only would the center help in connecting with other helpful Flagler County resources. It would also  aid in providing assistance with food stamp applications, providing available computer time and assistance for job searches, application and resume completion. Part of the center’s mission would be enabling the homeless to connect with family, providing information for services available for medical and mental health, providing access one day a week to free medical care for homeless, providing contacts and transportation to job sources in the county and a place for meetings for recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, counseling, and connections with rehabilitation facilities.

“If good people from Flagler and neighboring counties wish to purchase tickets, even if they can’t come to our wonderful Steps to Success program on Sunday, September 16, please do give us a call,” says Extrom.

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