New Beginnings of Tampa has supported over 10,000 homeless veterans since its inception.
TAMPA, Fla – Michael Medlock can now admit that it took him almost a week after moving to his new home to finally get some sleep.
“I lost my job,” said the US Army veteran. “It’s a pretty nice place. A really nice place. “
That is exactly the answer that Dr. Tom Atchison hoped the New Beginnings of Tampa would trigger when the local pastor began outreach for homeless veterans. Atchison served the Sulfur Springs Ward at New Life Ministries for 20 years.
Caring for veterans in need was a breeze for him.
“Sometimes they just need a little care, a little bit I’ve seen that there is hope in their life,” said the pastor. “You’re getting your life back.”
“One day when they saw a homeless woman walk out of the church with her lunch box in hand, Tom and Ginny found that handing out food was a temporary relief but did nothing to solve their deeper problems,” says the New Beginnings of Tampa website. “From that day on, they were filled with a passion to do more and really help people change their lives.”
It’s taking shape with the help of Habitat For Humanity Hillsborough, which hired a few socially distant volunteers on a rainy veterans day morning to help upgrade the New Beginnings site.
Around 70 people live there after getting into difficult times after trying to reintegrate from a life in the military. New Beginnings offers accommodation, three meals a day, and helps with job searches and a more permanent home.
“Ten percent of the homeless in Hillsborough County are veterans. We believe the number is higher because many veterans do not want to identify as veterans when they are homeless, ”said Nitza Rivera of Habitat. “We definitely want to support any place where you can feel welcome and at home.”
It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide per day across the country. Having safe places like New Beginnings of Tampa helps reduce those numbers. Public relations has helped over 10,000 veterans in nearly two decades.
It’s better than expected for the likes of Medlock.
“I’ve been told ‘thank you for your service’ for years and sometimes you really think about it sometimes and it almost brings tears to my eyes,” he said.
Habitat helped build a new roof and picnic benches on the property on Seneca Avenue in Tampa this month. Around 70 veterans live on site. Some are only there for a few weeks. Others stay for up to a year.
Everyone goes knowing that they are loved and cared for.
“You can see that someone really cares about you and that is a great motivation for you to do the right thing,” said Atchison.
Dr. Atchison received the Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award for his work on New Beginnings of Tampa.
Since its inception, New Beginnings has helped over 10,000 homeless people recover and change their lives. When families are reunited, children who are affected are often affected, which is particularly worrying.
Because of this, New Beginnings is launching a youth mentoring program to help build strong, trusting relationships, positive attitudes, and life skills for children at risk. In the tradition of its founders, New Beginnings continues to run the Hunger Relief Program, which distributes nutritious groceries to families and homeless people who still live on the streets.
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