Published On: Mon, Aug 27th, 2018

H.O.M.E. is Shedding Light and Hope to Boca Raton’s Homeless Population

Four years ago, a group of men from the First United Methodist Church created a shower and laundry program which they eventually called Love Boca Outreach Ministries. The idea came up after a homeless woman attended a Celebrate Recovery meeting and they saw the need of this community given that week after week the population kept growing.

The church started to reach out to the community for support and one of the parishioners was Jim Batmasian. Jim felt touched by the need of this population, and became the main benefactor, making his mission to change lives and break the cycle of homelessness. As of today, Love Boca has evolved to H.O.M.E. (Homeless Outreach Mentoring and Education) with the Mission to build bridges from homelessness to wholeness.

The last official count of homeless in Palm Beach County as of May 2018, there are 1308 homeless people on record, in the city of Boca Raton, no city-government institutions have statistics regarding that population within our limits. Even though Sun Sentinel focused on the tent city in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton has its own problem as evidence as the people served by H.O.M.E. every week, where they see from around 40 people in the summer to 90+ during the winter months.

Once a week a group of dedicated volunteers from the community help welcoming the homeless to the weekly showers and meals services, while embracing them to pursue improvements in their life. Another volunteer that needs special mention and has been with the organization since its beginning is Ms. Bonnie Stryker, she embodies the heart of a true servant not only by running the services at church but also managing the laundry services on Monday. Bonnie has been nominated for Junior League’s Woman Volunteer of the Year, the organization and the homeless are blessed by her selfless actions.

Although this is not the easiest population to serve and support nor do you see the results of your actions right away, every little success is worth it because the time invested can help to save a life.

One of the most prominent success stories is Don A., who successfully completed the Celebrate Recovery program and was guided by Mr. Batmasian’s mentorship and the support from Love Boca is now a successful property manager, has reestablished contact with his family and has become a mentor for other participants.

Jon D. had been blind for 5 years due to cataracts and the inability to get treated even though he had insurance. Love Boca found out he had been assaulted and robbed in the streets and he couldn’t defend himself due to his disability and immediately started to build bridges to obtain the operation he needed to potentially recover his sight that’s how Dr. Goldman and Dr. Weiss from Eye Associates of Boca Raton gave him the Gift of Sight through the partnership with Caridad Center last Thanksgiving.

A single woman who was the victim of an abusive relationship opened to us about needing to escape the situation but being paralyzed by fear of her boyfriend. Volunteers protected her while they contacted AFDA and through the cooperation of the Boca Raton Police were able to provide safe passage to a secure future.

The efforts of H.O.M.E. are dependent solely on volunteer population as well as financial support from the community, if you would like to get involved with the cause please visit www.homeboca.org or give them a call at 561-465-5311.

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