Hope for Families Center Provides Stability to Homeless Children & Families During COVID-19 Pandemic

Homeless students and families living at the Hope for Families Center in Vero Beach
are able to continue their education and maintain a sense of normalcy during the COVID-19
pandemic with support from shelter resources such as computers, regular
meals, and a safe place to call home.

It’s 9 am at the Hope for Families Center in Vero Beach; Jameirirez, 15, logs into one of the center’s computers and begins working geometry problems assigned by her math teacher. A few rooms down, DaNise, 7, sits next to his mother as they work on writing a story about a dragon. While this may seem routine as COVID-19 dominates headlines, these small acts of normalcy are incredible successes for these previously homeless children.

To say that the families that Hope for Families Center serves struggled before the Coronavirus pandemic is an understatement - they were homeless, without food, shelter and the basic necessities needed for survival. These are the families that were hardest hit when employers and schools started shuttering doors.

While other support organizations have closed, the Hope for Families Center remains open, providing the current number of 11 families a safe place to call home while caring for both the physical and mental well-being of all residents.

“Closing our doors was never an option,” said executive director Diana Grossi. “We could never, in good conscious, turn these parents, these kids, back to the streets. How do you do home school, when you don’t even have a home?”

Instead of halting services, the Hope for Families staff and residents buckled down on already strict sanitization and safety protocols. All residents and staff are required to wear a mask when in public areas, families have been educated on the importance of hand washing and social distancing, and everyone seems to be on board with keeping the virus out of the facility.

“It’s a team effort,” said Carolyn, mother of two with one daughter living with her at the shelter and Hope for Families resident. “We have nowhere else to go, so we all want to do our part to keep everything safe and clean.”

The Hope for Families staff has also been working with other community organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, Whole Family Health and Treasure Coast Community Health to keep residents healthy and to make sure they are prepared in the event a resident does become infected. A wing of the shelter has been sanitized and equipped in the event of a possible quarantine.

With the support of the Hope for Families Center, this challenging time is a little more bearable for these impoverished families.

“We are able to keep families together and help them through this time when their jobs are lost and they can’t make ends meet,” said Grossi. “We make sure the children have what they need to continue their schoolwork. We can’t let this virus derail the progress our families have made.

We have to help them persevere.”

While the Hope for Families Center does not have the capacity to store food and clothing donations, it is appreciative of financial contributions to help provide shelter and services for homeless families.


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