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Intersection: Giving Thanks To Those Who Help The Homeless

Briana Daniel with a car load of donations for her Street Team Movement. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Briana Daniel with a car load of donations for her Street Team Movement. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Thanksgiving weekend is all about gathering at home with family and friends.

But what about those who don’t have a home? Today on Intersection- three Central Floridians who are helping the homeless- in different ways.

Two years ago, Briana Daniel started the Street Team Movement. She was 21, had just finished her studies at UCF, and she wanted to do something to help the homeless.

"Being fairly new to the Central Florida area [homelessness] wasn't something that was in the forefront of my mind," says Daniel.

"Until it smacked me in the face, and then I just opened my eyes and said wow,  this is a pressing need."

Her non profit provides basic necessities: personal hygiene items and clothing, mental health referrals and they’re working to get access to showers.

But what’s got the Street Team Movement the most publicity is the laundry. Two days a week- Tuesdays and Thursdays- they help homeless Orlando residents get their laundry done. Briana Daniel says they essentially take over the Thornton Park laundromat.

Before starting her non profit, Daniel spent a month living on the streets to find out what the need was.

"When I went homeless I realized- I got nowhere to wash my clothes," she says.

"Clean clothes are just a necessity. It's something that's often overlooked and it's very important, with the hygienic aspect and just a general feeling of dignity."

Tim McKinney wants to transform the lives of Bithlo residents. 

[caption id="attachment_54664" align="alignleft" width="400"] Tim McKinney, CEO of United Global Outreach, wants to transform Bithlo. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE[/caption]

Tim McKinney is building Transformation Village- a campus in the East Orange County community of Bithlo- that will transform the lives of residents there. It’ll provide access to clean water, educational resources- and a model for affordable housing.

Growing up, Tim McKinney says his only connection to Bithlo was driving through on the way to the beach.

"You knew it was the place to break down if you were going to break down, because there were a lot of junkyards with a lot of car parts," he says.

But that changed a few years ago when, after a career in business, McKinney’s life took a turn and he decided he wanted to give back to the community.

"Really I thought Bithlo must be just a few hundred residents because the span East and West is so small, you're through it so very quick. I had no idea that Bithlo was so deep North and South, so I really had a very different impression of what is the reality."

[caption id="attachment_54668" align="alignright" width="400"] This house will be Transformation Village's library and cafe. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE[/caption]

On the property there’s a community school and a three thousand square foot container garden. A fish farm and a hair salon are under construction, and there's also the site of a model small home, which will serve as an example of affordable housing.

One of the most striking features is a red painted house, with a steep pitched roof and ornate carved woodwork.

McKinney says it’s not a typical home for Bithlo, a community with hundreds of trailer homes.

United Global Outreach bought the property from the estate of Steve and Margaret Samarjia. McKinney says it was their dream home. Soon it will be a community library and cafe.

"This house in particular was kind of like the castle at the Magic Kingdom. When I was a kid you always wondered what was going on at the castle but you never got to go there," says McKinney.

"I think for Bithlo, everybody always saw this house which was so not like the housing available in the community- and now it's a community asset."

Scroll to the end of the page for a slideshow of Transformation Village.

Orange Blossom Family Health treats Orlando's homeless and uninsured: from dental care to mental health.

[caption id="attachment_54673" align="alignleft" width="267"] Bakari Burns in the dental lab for Orange Blossom Family Health. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE[/caption]

Weekday mornings- people line up early outside the Orange Blossom Family Health clinic.

Since 2006 the homeless and uninsured have come to this location on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando for medical care..

Each day up to 400 patients walk through the doors of the clinic.

President and Chief Executive Bakari Burns says his aim is to give them the healthcare they need so they can stay out of the emergency room.

The onsite dental clinic has ten chairs- and a lab where they can make dentures.

"It's very important when you're talking about moving someone who's living a life of homelessness to a life of self sufficency," says Burns.

"It often times starts with their appearance, which affects their confidence. In the service driven environment that we live in, trying to get a job with missing teeth, probably wouldn't happen," he says.

He says the holidays can put extra stress on the homeless- and there's also colder weather to deal with.

"But my goal is that one day my medical providers can pull out their prescription pad and write a prescription for one unit of affordable housing. I'm a true believer that housing is healthcare," says Burns.


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