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Stories of Hope and Courage

Homeless and Hungry

Stories of Hope and Courage: Homeless and HungryTwelve years ago, Santos arrived in Central Florida from Puerto Rico. He had heard of a job opportunity and decided to pursue it. It never materialized.  He quickly learned that being alone without resources in an unfamiliar city was not a comfortable situation to be in.  

Once his limited funds ran out he became homeless and spent a year and a half living on the streets of Orlando.  Aside from feeling invisible and missing his family, there was another unfamiliar sensation…hunger.  

For the first time in his life, Santos, a man who had lived his life in the relative comfort of the middle class, understood the desperation someone feels when they don’t get enough to eat.  He vividly recalls literally running a distance of more than 7 miles on many occasions just to make it to a local feeding program before they closed at 7 pm.  More calories were burned to get there on those days than were obtained when he arrived—a net negative.  

Once the need for food was met, the next challenge would arise; where to seek shelter for the night. Fortunately, local programs like the Coalition for the Homeless and the Wayne Densch Center, were a vital part of Santos’ ability to survive his ordeal.

At Second Harvest Food Bank, we are proud to be able to distribute food resources to these wonderful programs and hundreds more like them.  After being accepted by a college scholarship program through the Coalition, Santos obtained two degrees from Valencia and as of today continues to study at UCF as a senior; several classes shy of earning another degree.

His experience has helped him understand that dedicating his life to helping others offers lasting rewards. Today, he is employed as Childhood Hunger Programs Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank, and oversees the summer feeding,  Hi-Five Kids Pack, and Kids Café programs.

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