Annual Report 2019-2020 by Sue Bickings

Sue Bickings, our Chairperson on the Board gives a Report for the 2018 opening.

Cold Weather Shelter Update 2019-2020

  

Flagler County Family Assistance Center, Inc.

The Sheltering Tree

November 17, 2019

Welcome to all our volunteers and supporters. We couldn’t make the Sheltering Tree happen without YOU!

Thank you to the First United Methodist Church of Bunnell for your support of the Sheltering Tree!

Board of Directors of Flagler County Family Assistance Center TO BE ELECTED:

Chair: Sue Bickings 

Vice Chair: Martin Collins

Vice Chair, Shelter Operations: Vicky Le Tellier

Secretary: Teresa Barkley (new Board member)

Treasurer: Stephanie Robinson

Board Member: Wanda White

We welcome new board members during this year: Elaine LaJoie, John Le Tellier, and Teresa Barkley

Volunteers assisting the board on a weekly basis are:

Ellen Kincaid (office)  Joe Golan (the Bike Man) 

Jill Wilson (clothing room) Patty 

Church Support from:

Pastor Terry Wines Chuck Johnson (Tuesday office assistant)

Trustees and Members of First United Methodist Church

Annual Report 2018-2019 Season

Brief History:

We are beginning our 12th season for the Cold Weather Shelter, despite some setbacks this year. We started the shelter with the intention of just getting folks out of the cold at night. Our objectives soon evolved from simply providing a warm night and hearty meals to also providing clothing, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, toiletries, and laundry vouchers. We started helping with getting food stamps, SSI and SSDI, emergency phones and ID cards and but found that this was only scratching the surface. We transported folks to Port Orange to replace Social Security cards, to emergency rooms, to medical appointments, and to bus stations here and in Daytona. We were getting an education – Homelessness 101. We learned how tough each day and each night can be (each offering different challenges),  how strong and resilient these folks have to be to withstand the physical elements of heat, cold, dampness, mosquitoes and spiders, the lack of medical, mental, and dental care, the difficulties of keeping nominal physical hygiene, trying to sleep in unsafe conditions, the spiritual and social isolation, the endless boredom and the depression. We saw hope change to despair then resignation. We saw a different definition of what is “normal” and acceptable through their eyes and that these folks were pretty much the same as we, each having unique and complex needs, each requiring unique and complex solutions.

Vision and Mission Statements:

Our vision is to support people/families experiencing homelessness or those in need to become independent contributors of society.

Our mission is to assist those in need during each step leading to independent living. This includes a cold weather shelter and the necessary resources to help people transition to permanent housing.

The year in review in Flagler County

· At the end of May 2019, the Bunnell City Commission voted to deny a special exception requested by the church for the continuation of the Cold Weather Shelter, operated by us. 

· Since that date, the U.S. Department of Justice received a complaint that the city was in violation of federal law “The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” (RLUIPA), which gives churches a way to avoid zoning law restrictions on their property use. 

· In August we applied for a Business Tax Receipt from the city of Bunnell to operate our Tuesday office hours at the church. We had been asked by the city to do this. We received the BTR in October 2019.

· Because the DOJ (US Department of Justice) agreed to investigate the complaint, the city agreed to allow the CWS to operate at our current location, with the understanding that the DOJ investigation is not yet complete. 

· On November 10, 2019, members of the church and Sheltering Tree met with city and county officials to find a way forward that will satisfy all parties, and benefit the homeless population of Flagler County, particularly on cold nights that will shortly be upon us. 

· Today, the board would like to hear from you, our volunteers about your thoughts and ideas moving forward.

FCFAC Goals:

1. To manage FCFAC 501c3 with efficiency, transparency, and in honest service of the chronically homeless of Flagler.

Our board meetings are open to anyone to attend. 

2. To provide those in need a safe warm shelter, food, and clothing when the weather is 40 degrees or colder. (The Cold Weather Shelter)

We were open 16 nights during 2018-2019 winter season. For 11 seasons, our openings have ranged from 9 – 40 nights. 

3. To assist the chronically homeless of Flagler with the tools, guidance, and support necessary to enter permanent housing. 

Our office offers a listening ear to anyone who stops by, in order to develop a trust relationship with chronically homeless persons. We constantly update our referral resources.

4. To provide extreme weather shelter and basic survival necessities including snacks, hydration, and clothing to the homeless of Flagler.

The office is open on Tuesdays to provide emergency help to the chronically homeless and nearly homeless.

5. To provide emergency help to those either in imminent danger of homelessness and those who need temporary help that would lift them out of homelessness.

We partner with other local agencies to assist families and individuals to avoid or recover from homelessness.

Continuing Programs: 

1. Our partnership with Flagler County Human Services Our relationship with Human Services is ongoing and dedicated to the vulnerable populations of Flagler County. Human Services works with many local agencies like ours, to prevent homelessness in Flagler County. Social workers determine sustainability in cases where we can provide assistance to keep families in their homes. 

2. Our Partnership with the STRIDE Program at the County Jail It is difficult for homeless people to keep track of important papers. Weather, theft, just losing stuff often results in the loss of their ID cards. When people are incarcerated, IDs can be left behind, or otherwise lost through the process. Ultimately, many inmates are released back into society. The resources to help released inmates at the jail are limited, so Sheriff Staley initiated a new program, STRIDE, for local agencies to come to the jail on a regular basis and offer assistance to those nearing a release date. Inmates sign up to attend a STRIDE Meeting. Our role has been to assist these people in getting birth certificates and local ID cards. When people are released from jail, they can immediately apply for a job with necessary information. Also, getting your identity back is a strong and powerful way of changing your life. You rejoin society with ID. 

3. Our Tuesday Office Experience Each Tuesday our volunteer office staff meets with people who are chronically, nearly or newly homeless. We provide laundry vouchers, clothing, bikes, emergency food, light refreshments, listening ears and hope. We refer clients to other agencies. We assist families with utility bills that are going to be shut off. Our goal is to truly listen and make a difference. Each client who speaks with one of us will find friendship and encouragement to make a way out of their present difficulties.  For most of the year, our office was open on Wednesdays.

4. The Cold Weather Shelter We expect another cold winter season coming soon! We look forward to providing our many volunteers opportunities to engage meaningfully with those who are marginalized by society. Our cots and bedding continue to be adequate for the tasks ahead. All we truly need is the time and energy of our volunteers to open the cold weather shelter. We were open 16 nights last season.

    

How you can help:

1. Spread the word: we need more teams to lessen the load. WE NEED MORE OF ALL TEAMS, especially Overnighters and Rise ‘n Shine Teams! 

2. Continue your commitment and compassion. Talk to your friends, neighbors and church members. We will be happy to attend services at your place of worship to talk about The Sheltering Tree. Ask any board member about this. 

3. Join us at the office of the Sheltering Tree on Tuesdays. You will be blessed. We are open 10 am- 2 pm. every Tuesday. Please come and see what we do!

4. Attend training sessions with your team. 

Training sessions: Please have all members of your team attend. In order to have a smooth opening and successful year, important instructions must be followed.


TRAINING DATES IN DECEMBER 2019

Hospitality and Supper Training Sunday, December 8th at 4 PM

Overnighters and Rise ‘n Shine Training Sunday, December 15th at 4 PM

If you can only attend on one of these dates, please come on either evening that fits your calendar. We will touch on all 4 trainings each time.

Interesting Facts about the 2018-2019 Season

· 60 different individuals stayed over the course of the season.

· 40 men and 20 women- more women than any other year.

· 4 married couples stayed at the shelter.

· 12 people were born in the 1950s or earlier.

· Our oldest visitor was a 79-year-old man.

· Beverly needed to get to Ohio, where a place- home- was reserved for her. She stayed in her car, except on the coldest nights, when she joined us at the shelter. 

· 1 family living in their car came and stayed in a separate room.

Each week an average of 15-20 people visits our office for the following help:

Emergency food and/or clothing and shoes

Driver’s license fees or Identification cards

Rent, utility deposit help

Referrals to other agencies

Food stamp application and renewal

Disability claims updates

Sleeping bags and tents, tarps, etc.

Bike repair and car issues, including $10-15 for gas

Counseling 

Bus ticket out of Flagler County to designated “Home”

Help paying for medication/ prescriptions 

THANK YOU TO OUR SHELTERING TREE VOLUNTEERS!