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The y e n r Jou SEPTEMBER 2017

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Welcome John Hearn, our new President/CEO “Over the past several months, I have been energized by the staff and inspired by our clients. There’s an opportunity to continue the Coalition’s longstanding tradition of impacting our community in a tangible and productive way, and it’s quite an honor to play a role in that effort and this amazing organization.”

After retiring as Chief Financial Officer for the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), John Hearn – a former member of our Board of Directors – was looking forward to traveling and relaxing. But we had other plans for him. When Brent Trotter announced his retirement in October 2016, John graciously accepted the role of interim President/CEO and immediately went to work. Now, nearly a year later, with all the good things he’s begun, we simply couldn’t let him go. Recently, we sat down with him to learn more about his plans for the Coalition’s future as our official President and CEO.

How did you initially become involved with the Coalition? Doug Spencer, who’s now our Board Chair, introduced me. We worked together at OUC, and he told me the Coalition was looking for someone to fill a position on the Board of Directors who had a financial background. I felt like it was a good match of resources and desires. That’s how I became involved with the Coalition and got to know about its mission. That was back in 2006. I served on the Board for nine years and also took on the role of Treasurer.

What are some of the benefits you’ve seen as we’ve moved toward being a housing-focused shelter?

What has been the greatest achievement you’ve seen, so far?

When you look at it, in 2016, we put over 1,000 people into permanent housing. That kind of impact is truly significant. We feed a lot of people, we shelter a lot of people, but the ultimate goal is to get them back into housing.

The greatest achievement I’ve seen is community collaboration. By establishing communication and understanding among our partners, we’re creating a clear vision of how we each fit in, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. It’s so important to have solid relationships with other organizations, our local government, and of course, our donors and supporters.

I think another significant thing has been participating in our community’s Coordinated Entry System, which allows us to identify those who are the most in need. Nationally, the Coordinated Entry System is fairly new. Daune Brittlebank [Director of Program Services] and her staff looked at it and said, ‘This is effective. Let’s be a part this.’

What would you like the Coalition to look like a year from now?

It’s great to see the case managers and others who are really excited about the results they see. ‘We found this, we located that, we found another source in the community for housing that will really help our guests out.’ Many of our clients don’t qualify for Permanent Supportive Housing or Rapid Re-Housing, so we’re reconnecting them with family or helping them find other housing in the community.

What has changed since your role has evolved from a Board Member to the President/CEO? I sat on the Board because I have a desire to help people. I saw the Coalition as a wonderful opportunity to help those who are the greatest in need. But it wasn’t until I got on this side that I really began to sense some of the complexities and issues of homelessness. I learn something new every day. One of my hesitancies in taking this job was that I didn’t know all the ins and outs of homelessness. The staff has been really great about teaching me. I’ve immersed myself in the language, and I’m beginning to see how things work. What really amazes me is the number of services that are around us. We have IDignity, Healthcare Center for the Homeless, Orlando Union Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Christian Service Center, and a host of others who all provide crucial services. The community’s committed to dealing with this issue, and only together are we able to make a difference and work through it effectively.

A year from now, I expect us to be a fully housingfocused shelter. I also think that we’ll be well along the path to providing an emergency drop-in center. Whether that’s a daytime or overnight shelter, there’s a lot of discussion around that. But, I expect to be significantly along the way, because we see that need in the community.

Are there any particular stories from clients that have impacted you? The story that stands out to me is Mr. D’s. He had been in and out of our facility for quite some time. He’d been in the Men’s Pavilion years ago and in the Men’s Service Center once before. He came back as part of an outreach effort that our staff initiated to engage the homeless immediately around our campus. We actually had to bend the rules to get him in because he does not have identification. Mr. D is originally from Jamaica and has been on the streets for over 20 years. He was quite frankly on the way to dying out there. We ended up taking him back in, and we’re continuously committed to working on his identity and helping him get back on his feet. We’re working with IDignity, Catholic Charities, and the legal system, but it’s an extremely difficult case. Every story is unique, but this speaks to the fact that homelessness is complicated and not everybody fits into a category. It speaks to the heart of our organization, because we aren’t going to give up on Mr. D or anyone else who needs our help.

To learn more about how we’re helping our clients find their way home, follow us on Facebook: FB.COM/COALITIONFORTHEHOMELESS 1

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Dave suffers from chronic illnesses and had been living

in the woods for five years. After going through a difficult divorce, Sha-Libra and her children stayed with family, but after a while, they were forced to leave with nowhere else to go. Luis is a veteran who survived a spinal injury and two heart attacks but needed help getting back on his feet. And, after struggling with addiction and living on the streets for thirty years, Lattanya finally worked up the courage to make a change. Every story is as unique as the person living it, but they all have something in common. Today, they each have a place to call their own.

2,772 Coalition guests have moved from one of our programs into stable housing in the last three years.

When an individual or family walks through our doors, they begin their journey home. The ultimate goal of a housingfocused shelter like the Coalition is to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to ending homelessness, which is why our organization employs the Housing First approach, while also offering programs and services for those not eligible for housing assistance programs. In the past three years, 2,772 Coalition guests have moved from one of our programs into stable housing. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), which is one component of the Housing First model, focuses on chronically homeless individuals who often suffer from disabilities — people like Dave. After living in the woods for five years, he came to the Coalition where his case manager, Malik, immediately helped him get medical treatment. Together, they completed the necessary paperwork for housing. Dave is now living in an apartment through our community’s PSH program, and he says, “I’m just really thankful for Malik and the Coalition. It’s only because of this place that I have my own home now.” Through the program, Dave will continue to receive financial assistance 2

1,000 chronically homeless individuals in our area are still in need of housing.

and supportive services for as long as he needs them. Though the Coalition has placed 207 chronically homeless men and women into permanent housing over the past three years, it is estimated that 1,000 others in our area still need housing.


When arrived at the Coalition with her three young children, she was the perfect candidate for Rapid Re-Housing (RRH), a Housing First approach that focuses on the quick placement of a family into rental units with time-limited financial assistance and supportive services. Working with her case manager, Ramon, ShaLibra placed her children in daycare, so she could look for a job while completing the application for housing. “I had moments when I wanted to give up, but being at the Coalition was all worth it. The first time I walked through the door of my new home, it felt like life had been given to me again. I felt like, for the first time in a while, that there is hope,” she says.

Luis is a U.S. Army Veteran who was in a diving

accident while on vacation, causing a life-threatening infection in his spine. At the time, he was living in Germany but decided to move back to the United States to access the medical benefits he’d earned while serving in the Army. But upon his arrival in Orlando, he suffered two In the past heart attacks, making three years, 310 it impossible for him to get back on his feet on veterans have his own. A contact at moved from our Veteran’s Administration program into (VA) referred him to the Coalition, where he stable housing. was assigned to Veteran Services Case Manager,

“I just want to go to work, go home, lie down and live like a Productive person.”

Today, Lattanya is proud to have a place of her own.

Al. Luis worked with Al and the VA to secure housing through Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH). “I woke up the first morning in my own apartment and I finally felt free again. I’m working on taking care of my health, so that’s my priority right now. I’m so happy, I feel like I could dance in the streets!” While Dave was eligible for Permanent Supportive Housing, Sha-Libra and her family for Rapid ReHousing, and Luis for VASH, there are countless others who simply don’t qualify and might slip through the cracks without the additional programs and services offered by shelters. Lattanya is one them.

There are just 18 affordable rental units available for every 100 very low-income families.

Lattanya arrived at

the Coalition determined to rebuild her life. After living on the streets and struggling with addiction for three decades, she enrolled in the First Steps Substance Abuse Recovery Program, where she met her case manager, Stefanie. “Lattanya came here with a drive and passion to succeed like I’d never seen before. As her case manager, it has been a joy to watch her reclaim her life, one day at a time,” says Stefanie. After graduating from the program, Lattanya secured a full-time job and worked with Stefanie to find an affordable, safe place close to public transportation. Today, she is living her dream of a simple life. “I just want to go to work, go home, lie down and live like a productive person,” she says. Each year, nearly 2,700 people arrive at our doors. Their paths to us are inestimably varied and often harrowing. It is our job to help them on the final leg of their journey – to stabilize, to focus, and to thrive. Because their next stop is home. 3


Cindy has seen first-hand that art can be so much more than a hobby – it can change lives. She’s the Orlando Program Director of drawchange, a weekly art-based therapy group for children that meets once a week at the Coalition to connect and create.

“There are four specific kids that I noticed in the beginning of the program that were really shy,” she says. “I could tell that they were a little scared and unsure of what to make of it. They followed instructions, but when I asked them questions or tried to talk to them, they ignored me. I wasn’t sure if they liked me and hoped that they would open up. On the third week, they came up to me and started talking about stuff that was going on during their day. It was a really drastic change.” That’s the kind of impact drawchange has made at the Coalition in just the past few months. Cindy and her group of volunteers meet on Tuesday evenings to give the children personalized attention and provide a therapeutic environment for them to express themselves. Founded in Atlanta by Jennie Lobato in 2009, drawchange has expanded to multiple locations across the U.S. and internationally in Ethiopia and Costa Rica to provide empowering art programs for impoverished children. “Our focus is to serve homeless children, because Atlanta has one of the largest populations of homeless children on any given evening. It’s a huge problem in Atlanta and throughout the United States,” says Lobato. 4

Each of the art activities focuses on identifying the children’s needs and encouraging them to engage in topics such as: collaboration, empowerment, dream building, imagination, self-esteem, creation, and stress relief.

What’s unique about drawchange is how the curriculum directly correlates with what’s happening in the children’s lives. Every week, the program director thoughtfully chooses what the group will focus on and keeps making adjustments according to what’s needed. Lobato explains, “Cindy might notice that the children seem to be bullying each other. Then the next week, she’ll choose a project that is working on collaboration and boosting selfesteem. Or one week, they feel like they have no idea what they want to do and are not feeling empowered enough, so she chooses the project from our curriculum based on that.” We are grateful for Cindy, Jennie and the rest of the drawchange team for providing this program for children at the Coalition! To find out more about drawchange, visit their website at


We would like to thank Bill Sullivan, Michele Byington, Rebecca Leininger, and the entire Taste! Central Florida committee for all you do to fight childhood hunger in our community. Because of you, the Coalition’s children begin each day with a wholesome breakfast and end each day with a nutritious family dinner. Your hard work ensures that they can grow, learn and play, never worrying when their next meal will be. Congratulations on the record-breaking event! And, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Taste! Central Florida is a volunteer-driven event with local chefs, brewers and distilleries donating their time, talent and creations to make this event one of the largest fundraisers of the year for both Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. For more information on Taste!, visit the website at

1 in 4 children in Orlando struggles with hunger.



Last year, the Coalition served more than 270,000 nutritious meals to our neighbors in need. Nearly 30% of clients served by Central Florida feeding programs are kids. 5

FOUNDATION GRANTS Thank you for making our work possible.

Heart of Florida United Way $170,000

Dr. Phillips Charities $10,000

Bailes Family Foundation $5,000

Disney World Resorts $75,000

Orlando Health Community Grant Program $10,000

Harper Family Foundation $4,000

Orlando Sentinel Family Fund $60,000 Orlando Magic Youth Fund $50,000 Bank of America Foundation $20,000 Darden Foundation $10,000

Synchrony Financial Charitable Employee Campaign $8,000 Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation $7,500

Maximus Foundation $2,500 Charles Schwab Foundation $1,500 Charles Hosmer Morse Foundation $1,000

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chairman Douglas M. Spencer Spencer Consulting Services Vice Chair Christopher C. Brockman Holland & Knight LLP Secretary T. Todd Pittenger Akerman LLP Treasurer Mindy Brenay Orlando Utilities Commission President/CEO John E. Hearn Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Inc. Steven Alexander, PFM Asset Management, LLC Brooke R. Bonnett, City of Orlando Bakari F. Burns, Health Care Center for the Homeless, Inc. Fara K. Dantzler, Wells Fargo Bank N.A. Eric David, Expedia Local Expert Miranda F. “Randi” Fitzgerald, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. Jim Fritz, Orlando Magic Eric D. Gassman, Orange County Government Kris M. Gault, Orlando Magic Aaron Hill, Reed Nissan

Christine S. Kefauver, HDR, Inc. Fred R. Kittinger, Jr., University of Central Florida Ben Lalikos, IBERIABANK Ronald R. Lamb, SunTrust Bank Meagan Martin, Baker & Hostetler LLP Sean A. McLaughlin, Sungate Capital LLC Michael Miller, CAPA Centre for Aviation Lee Nimkoff, Brio Properties Elena H. Norman, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc. Stacey A. Prince-Troutman, Broad and Cassel John Rivers, 4R Restaurant Group Ty G. Roofner, Burr & Forman LLP John R. “Rick” Schooler, Orlando Health Samuel C. “Trip” Stephens III, ZOM, Inc. Jane Tebbe-Shemelya, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Richard G. “Rick” Wack, Mediation Services of Central Florida, Inc. Richard C. “Rich” Wahl, Findsome & Winmore Brian T. Wilson, Dellecker Wilson King McKenna Ruffier & Sos, LLP Mark Woodbury, Universal Parks & Resorts Erin Trabel Youngs, Walt Disney World Resort Aaron Zandy, Ford & Harrison LLP | 407.426.1250 | 639 W. Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32801

CONNECT | September 2017  
CONNECT | September 2017  

In this issue of Connect, you'll meet our new President/CEO and several clients who are on their journey home.