The Challenges of Hiding in Plain Sight
Beneath the shiny façade of office buildings and the booming residential construction that’s occurring throughout Central Florida, there’s a sub-community often overlooked and underrepresented. Since the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic, throughout Orange and Brevard Counties, the numbers of our neighbors that are experiencing the pains and difficulties of the unsheltered crisis has skyrocketed. Adding the rise of inflation, here at Matthew’s Hope we continue to see the damaging impact that the dramatic costs of goods and services have on not only our guests, but on our outreach efforts as well.
When you think about those experiencing homelessness, you will often gravitate towards the difficulties in finding affordable housing for those who are unsheltered. But that is only part of the daily struggle for our guests here at Matthew’s Hope. Many in our communities that find themselves unhoused are also facing a wide variety of other circumstances and challenges. Those difficulties range from addiction, mental health issues, physical trauma, psychological abuse, to simply losing their employment and unable to continue to pay their rent and mortgages.
Matthew’s Hope has long believed in helping our guests help themselves by giving them the tools and resources to not only survive, but to rise out of homelessness and to get back onto their feet again. That’s why it is so important to help our guests on their journeys to self-sustainability, by helping them to hide in plain sight. Some may ask, “What does it mean to hide in plain sight and how does Matthew’s Hope help their guests achieve this?” The answers to those questions are complex but very important.
With commercial growth and residential development of what used to be less populated and underdeveloped areas throughout Winter Garden, Apopka, Pine Hills, Cocoa and other neighborhoods in West Orange and Brevard counties; those who are experiencing homelessness struggle to have a safe place to live and survive. That’s why it’s so important to Matthew’s Hope that we provide tools and resources that helps our guests to be able to blend in and have a chance to better themselves without being strapped with the title, “homeless”. One of the ways that we continue to help our guests in their efforts to hide in plain sight is by ensuring that they don’t appear “homeless”.
During our outreach service days, in addition to feeding our guests; we provide all our guests with access to showers, clean clothing and provide laundry services to ensure they have clean clothes throughout the week. We provide hygiene and wellness supplies that helps our guest in between our outreach services.
This is one of the struggles our guest face when trying to secure employment, is the lack of access to clean clothes, proper hygiene and showers. Which is why we strive to provide these services to all our guests here at Matthew’s Hope.
Additionally, thanks to volunteers, we can provide our guests with access to barbers, stylists, nail technicians, and estheticians. The challenges of hiding in plain sight are difficult, but necessary for our guests to not only survive but to have a chance to rise out of homelessness.
As we continue to serve the growing number of guests, the needs here at Matthew’s Hope also continues to rise. We continue to have needs for volunteer barbers and stylist to provide haircuts for our guests. As well as volunteers to serve during our outreach service days at our Winter Garden campus in Orange County, as well as our new Cocoa campus in Brevard County. If you have skills and availability to volunteer, we would love to speak to you about ways to help our guests here at Matthew’s Hope.