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Stories of Hope and Courage: Meet Shelly

Shelly's story of hope & courage

Meet Shelly

Like most parents, Shelly wants the best for her kids. A single mother and former home health aide, she has found herself in a place she never thought would be the best place for her and her daughter to be: a homeless shelter.

Shelly lives with leukemia, is a three-time brain tumor survivor and suffered two strokes this past spring. Her almost nine-year-old daughter, Amelia, is hearing impaired and was recently told she would be legally deaf by her tenth birthday. After a domestic violence incident forced Shelly to leave her home, two of her children went to live with other family members, but she couldn’t place the burden of caring for Amelia on anyone else.

Her daughter’s teacher let the two of them sleep in her car, an act of generosity she will not soon forget. That’s when she called Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “My daughter is cold,” she pleaded. “We just need a place to stay while we figure things out.”

Today, Shelly and Amelia are cared for by the helpful staff at the Coalition.

“I never wanted my problems to fall on my kids,” Shelly explains. “I’m happy we are taken care of here but sad that I can’t provide like I want to.”

They have a safe shelter and warm meals every day.

“Food is a critical piece of restoring hope for our guests,” said John Heron, CEO at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. As one of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s feeding partners, the Coalition prepares and serves meals to 500 residents daily, as well as dinner for an additional 90 members of the community every evening. Many of the meals served include food from the Second Helpings program, which collects prepared food donations from local restaurants, hotels and resorts and delivers it to feeding partners who operate meal programs for their clients.

“We provide good food on a regular basis,” says John. Meals like spaghetti, stews and chicken and vegetables are common. But with items like pasta salad, pulled pork and kale, meals made from Second Helpings donations provide variety from the standard menu.

“It’s the little things that can make a difference in your day,” John adds.

In the last few months, Shelly and Amelia have enjoyed daily meals at the Coalition. Their favorites are BBQ chicken, beef stroganoff and shepherd’s pie, comforting meals they are grateful to eat.

“Thank you, just thank you,” Shelly says. “I’m not here by choice. I depended on someone else and that didn’t work out for me.”

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, Shelly is able to focus on improving her health and finding stable housing so she can have her family back under one roof.

Inspired to help more of our neighbors in need like Shelly? Find ways to help!

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