A National Junior Honor Society student from Our Saviour Catholic School in Cocoa Beach helps Catholic Charities of Central Florida case manager, Rosa Reich, load bags for the homeless living in camps outdoors. (COURTESY)

Junior Honor society helps homeless outdoors

COCOA BEACH  |  As part of their Red Ribbon Week activities, Our Saviour Catholic School’s National Junior Honor Society reached out to Rosa Reich of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. Reich suggested collecting hygiene supplies for the homeless living in outdoor camps throughout Brevard County. 

Eighth-grader Audrey, president of the honor society, said the project allows students to put into action the school’s mission “to cultivate Catholic faith, Gospel values and … exemplifying love and service to others.” 

“Also, it reminds us of the greatest commandment – to love one another as Jesus loves us,” Audrey added.

Catholic Charities of Central Florida in Brevard County works to assist homeless individuals find housing, provides food through area pantries, and accompanies the Brevard Homeless Coalition on outdoor camp visits “to help persons living outdoors or in places not meant for human habitation,” according to Reich. The goal is to get them back on their feet, when possible.” 

 “Parishes, businesses, and individuals have been providing us with items over the past year. … This is the first time a school approached us and asked if they could do something for the persons we serve.”   

The need is real. Reich said there are anywhere from 900 to 1,200 homeless persons on any given night within her coverage area of central and north Brevard – from beachside to west of I-95. 

“We’ve seen a radical increase in calls from people needing help with rent and utilities (since COVID,)” she said. “During the shutdown, in the early months of the pandemic, the outreach teams were going out at least twice a week providing food, hygiene, and sanitizing supplies to persons living outdoors. While many agencies shut down, Catholic Charities along with some other Coalition agencies, served persons with the least ability to access food.”

She is grateful to Our Saviour honor society students and said, “There is a great need to help house those living outdoors. It is not about handing them food and hygiene items, it is about transforming their living situation. The blessing bags help us connect to them.”