Facing Homelessness: Searching for a Roof on the Suncoast Can Be Harder than most know

Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 4:36 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - “A lot of people will come up to you and say ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ Well, I have a job. You put money away, but you can’t come up with the big giant amounts like first month, last month and security right away.”

It’s a scary thought, but it’s very real for some of our neighbors. There are many obstacles that some have to overcome in order to find a place to call home.

Ride around town—you’ll see the homeless, but the face of need is changing…and so is the source of help.

“I couldn’t even find anyone to help me move everything out of my house. They just took everything and confiscated everything that was in there. It was embarrassing, and it was tough to face the idea that I was actually homeless. You never really think it’s going to happen to you. It’s always paycheck to paycheck, but you never think you’ll come to that last paycheck… but sometimes it happens,” Daniel Pevy explained to us.

Pevy worked all of his life, but at 58 years old, his wife passed away. This forced him to get a second job, but what was horrible only got worse when he himself got sick after an infection.

“I was in the hospital for about 6 months, and while I was in there, I lost everything I had. I don’t know if it’s just my age or the economy, but I haven’t been able to bounce back right away,” Pevy said.

Laura Licoski, the Founder of Facing Homelessness Bradenton, explained to us that this is why many people give up trying. Licoski has helped dozens of people on the Suncoast get their lives in order by finding ways to get them all of their needs. She’s founded the group Facing Homelessness Bradenton.

“You go in every time, and you are so excited wanting to be something and move forward. But then, people keep telling you what you are not. People keep telling you that you are not, and that you are not worth their time. I was glad that I experienced it first hand, and it definitely lit a fire under me,” Licoski said.

Licoski says getting a copy of a birth certificate or even a driver’s license can be almost impossible because of the way the system works.

“I see people all the time getting off the streets now, and it’s because there are people out here that are actually learning someone’s name. They are taking the time to sit down and just say hello. When you’re constantly having food or anything provided at street level to someone, it’s not encouraging someone to get off the street. What’s going to encourage someone is to be a thorn on their side,” Licoski explained.

Licoski says she knows the feeling of being broken. She was homeless at 17, and ever since, it’s centered her on her mission.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way because I don’t think you can really understand homelessness and what can happen if you’re not part of that world,” Licoski tells us.

“How can we make a difference in one person’s life? Because that’s what it starts with, and from there, it just snowballs,” Megan Hollie, a nurse & Founder of Emma’s Smiles of Kindness Outreach, explained.

Hollie works with her two daughters helping supply street friends with overlooked necessities like underwear, towels and batteries. She’s also a nurse, so it’s important to her to ensure they can care for bug bites or any cuts.

“They don’t have the resources to take care of themselves, and it can develop into pretty bad circumstances sometimes to where they are hospitalized for infections,” Hollie explained.

Like so many who help, it all comes out of her own pocket.

“A lot of people are one pay check away from not knowing what their future can potentially be. I think that being able to just be in somebody’s space and give them that hope that there’s a tomorrow,” Hollie said.

The hope many homeless, like Daniel Pevy, cling to.

“The people who come out here with nothing, but they have a good head on their shoulders, and they mean well and want to get out of it. They have perseverance. It’s easy to let it get you down sometimes, but if you Keep trying, you may not find the exact things that you want but you can find the things that you need to help your life get a little bit better,” Pevy expressed.

A wish that is not out of reach thanks to those who give from the heart.

Facing Homelessness Bradenton and Emma’s Smiles of Kindness Outreach are always looking to connect with people who are willing to help homeless get back on their feet by getting them the tools they need to do so.

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