Charity provides support for Miami's homeless residents

Couple contacted 'Call Christina' after losing their home

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - Meet Jim and Janna.

After a Call Christina story aired that touched upon the homeless population in Bayfront Park, Jim and Janna, a recently homeless couple, decided to Call Christina for help.

"This is home right now," Jim told Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez, who met them a week ago Monday at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. "It is just something I never thought would happen."

Jim, a former air cargo pilot, said the biggest misconception about the homeless is that "you are worthless. You are a bum. You are only one paycheck away from being homeless most of the time. You can't give up. I am not going to spend the rest of my life out here. Maybe a concerned citizen can have an idea of how Call Christina can help."

The Call Christina team contacted Bayfront Park management trust board member and Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo and Camillus House on Jim and Janna's behalf.

SLIDESHOW: Leon Davis back to work thanks to Camillus House 

Two days later, Sam Gil of Camillus House said they were able to secure Jim and his wife Janna shelter at the Beckham Hall Facility until an apartment opens up for them.

Upon hearing of their story, Meni-ninho Meni-ninha Preschool in Miami told Christina that it would be donating collected canned goods to Jim and Janna to help the couple stock up the pantry in their new place. 

WEB EXTRA: Miami preschool teaches children the importance of charity 

The remaining collected goods will be donated to other Camillus House clients.

"We learned about Jim and Janna. They are a family in need, and we really want to help them as much as we can," preschool director Natali Gonzalez said. "We have a philosophy: We believe in random acts of kindness. If you start at a young age then they will blossom from there. Every month we try to do something for someone."

Adrian Mesa, a Camillus House psychiatric nurse practitioner, said it just goes to show, "if you just extend a hand and offer them some hope, you might be that person's lifeline and may make a tremendous difference in their lives and impact the lives of so many others."

WEB EXTRA: Carollo talks about Lazarus Project

Vazquez met with Mesa and a team of outreach workers who tirelessly work to assist the chronically homeless population in and around downtown Miami.

Bayfront Park management trust partnered with Camillus House and Health on the Lazarus Project. The project works to treat, both medically and mentally, members of Miami's vulnerable homeless population.

WEB EXTRA: Christina joins Lazarus Project team as they give back

Several times a week, for hours at a time, the outreach workers make contact with men and women who are chronically homeless to build relationships and offer services and mental health treatment.

The project targets the chronically homeless, particularly those identified as the most service-resistant and having severe mental disorders, cognitive and other disabilities and chronic illness.

SLIDESHOW: Outreach workers aid Miami's homeless

In response to the growing need for behavioral health services among those who are chronically homeless in Miami, Camillus House and Health has expanded the number of psychiatric prescribers from one and a half to six over the past year. 

The goal is to help the vulnerable population break the cycle of homelessness through engagement, treatment and ultimately by providing supportive housing.

The team also offers showers at Camillus House.  That is in part why there is a current demand for hygiene products.

  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Combs
  • Razors
  • Chapstick
  • Scarves
  • Hand lotion
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Jackets
  • Blankets

Anyone can drop off items at 1603 NW Seventh Ave. in Miami. 

To learn more, click here.

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