As of February 2021, the number of homeless in downtown Tampa hit a high of 1,650 people. Although the city has been working to provide shelter, food, and hygienic products to the homeless, many still struggle to survive. However, Hyde Park United Methodist Church has made efforts to support homeless initiatives through its non-profit organization, the Portico. On National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day, we honor the work that our client, the Portico, has done to recognize those who face homelessness in our community and those who have died without a home.
The Portico Cafe:
The Portico Cafe is a social enterprise that helps bridge people battling homelessness, addiction, and incarceration with employment opportunities. Many of the cafe’s employees have taken his opportunity as a second chance to rehabilitate their lives and reconnect with community members. In addition, the cafe offers many different breakfast and lunch options for customers to order. These funds directly support the Portico’s events and initiatives. For more information about the cafe and its employees’ stories, please visit their newly renovated website here.
Portico Housing Solutions:
The Portico Housing Solutions provides safe housing for those transitioning into a new life. In exchange for accommodation, tenants are encouraged to give back to the community, attend church services, and develop a savings account that can be upheld after completing the program. The Portico Housing Solutions also offers mentoring and spiritual support for its residents provided by Hyde Park Methodist Church. Their goal is to support and transform the lives of the homeless.
Located on the third floor of the Portico, Love INC is a group of volunteers that provide the homeless with necessities such as food, water, and clothing. They differentiate themselves from other organizations by also bringing love, wisdom, and religion to individuals in need. Their mission is to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities in the Name of Christ.
Outside the Portico campus is a homeless memorial that honors those who have died on the streets of Tampa. The wall is edited each year with the names and ages of each person who has passed. The Portico works hard to recognize the strength and lives of the homeless as they have documented over 115 names to date.
Timothy P. Schmalz, a Canadian sculptor, best known for his religious art pieces, created the well-known Homeless Jesus Sculpture outside the entrance of the Portico campus. This prominent figure depicts a distressed Jesus sleeping on a park bench. Many people in passing have stopped to take a second glance at the realistic statue once they have recognized the sleeping man’s face. These actions have fulfilled the artist’s intentions of acknowledging those who are homeless and acknowledging that Jesus is with everyone.
To help the Portico’s many efforts in preventing homelessness around the Tampa area, please visit https://theportico.org/ to learn more about how you can get more involved.
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