September 19, 2008
Volunteers Needed For I Am Hope
“There are no words to describe how we feel right now that we are finally able to open the “I Am Hope Café” and feed the area homeless,” says Vince Ferraro who heads up this endeavor. The grand opening of the café was at the First Baptist Church of Mango in Seffner, which donated three unused classrooms for feeding the needy and Ferraro says, it “was fantastic” and adds, “We had about 250 community members gathered supporting the project and we were also able to feed the homeless.” After a year and a half, a few road blocks and lots of community support, what began as Project Hope (Helping Other People Excel) organized into a non-profit organization called Greater Brandon Ecumenical Ministries Inc. (GBEM), made up of over 20 different religious organizations, Ferraro is President of GBEM) and when asked about taking a year and a half to open, Ferraro says, “Obviously you want things done tomorrow but God has his own time and the delays worked to our advantage because it solidified the Board on the same page.” Ferraro continues, “We were able to get the right place in Seffner where a large number of people need us, and that is where the Lord wanted us to open the first one, where it was most needed.” Ferraro goes on to say, “The outpour from the community has just been overwhelming and the generosity we have seen is incredible, adding, “Everything for the building was donated including the fridge, freezers, microwaves, utensils, air conditioning, plumbing and even electrical work.” Ferraro says, “We really want to thank Reverend Dickerson and his wife Vesta, along with the members of the congregation who made a unanimous decision to support this effort,” adding, “This project could also not have been completed without the donations from businesses which provided time and services.” Ferraro says volunteers are still needed to help prepare side dishes and serve, along with monetary donations “so we can continue to get the supplies we need.” The café is able to feed the needy and offer assistance to the homeless and is partnered with Metropolitan Ministries according to Vice President of GBEM Don Heald, who adds “The café is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday from 5:30p.m.-7p.m. and Saturday breakfast is served from 9a.m.-10:30a.m. For more information about GBEM you can go to www.iamhopecafe.org and donations can be sent to GBEM, C/O St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 3315 Bryan Rd., Brandon, 33510.