Vero Beach organization helping homeless during heat wave
By Stephanie Susskind,2023-07-07
The Source located on Commerce Avenue in Vero Beach is a resource center for the homeless and those in need. It provides everything from food to clothing, counseling services, showers, job training and a safe place to escape the heat.
Right now, more are taking advantage of the services because of the oppressive heat.
Director of Operations Jade Alexander said they had 64 new intakes in June, and she attributes that to the hot temperatures.
"We've been back to back enrolling people to become a member of the Source, so they can access the benefits, which means coming inside to get away from the sun," she said. "This year particularly has been a lot more than we've seen last year."
Alexander said they also expanded their hours to allow people to spend more time indoors before their Dignity Bus opens for the night.
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"Our doors are always open, and we make sure we always have programs going on inside for people to be participating, so they don't have to be outside," she said. "[We are] making sure we limit our showers to about 15 minutes so we can have more people who can take showers because it is so hot. We have an increase in showers."
The Dignity Bus is a refurbished Greyhound bus now filled with bunks for people to sleep in overnight. The two buses total can sleep 36 people.
"Now that it's hot, we are always packed full every night," Alexander said. "We do have three AC units on each bus so that during the hot months like this you have somewhere cool to sleep. Our members here at the Source actually built this bus. They did the demo, construction and they were able to create this beautiful thing for our members to have somewhere to sleep at night."
Alexander said she's glad they can provide this resource to people who need it.
"Everybody is really grateful because there is no other option. If we weren't here, there isn't anywhere else, so it's a lot of gratitude and thanks just for us being here" she said. "With our homeless community, if you are never feeling wanted anywhere, you kind of lose respect for yourself and think of yourself as others see you, so when we open our doors and say, 'Hey come in.' We try to keep people productive. We have Bible studies, bingo, karaoke. We try to have all these things so people can feel like they are part of a community, and us showing people they are part of a community helps them start to build up their self-respect again and the desire to provide for themselves again."