Volunteers Needed For Daystar Center “I Am Hope” Homeless Café
By Carisa Biesecker
Iiamhope3 Am Hope Café will soon have a third local location on the grounds of Daystar Faith Center in Gibsonton thanks to the partnership of local organizations who gathered together at Riverview’s Resurrection Catholic Church last month.With the numbers of the homeless growing, the Greater Brandon Ecumenical Ministries is aiming to open the third I Am Hope Café in order to provide struggling residents with food and a connection with services provided through the staff of the center. Here, homeless residents would be introduced to a hot meal while having access to clothing, hygiene products, household items, tents, backpacks and the technology to obtain food stamps and a mailing address for their personal use.“I think there’s a tremendous need. It would really complement what they’ve got,” stated Margaret Shaw, a Brandon resident who has spent the past year volunteering at one of the two pre-existing cafes in the greater Brandon area through her church, the Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale. These cafes are operated out of First Baptist Church of Mango, situated at 11619 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. E. in Seffner, Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 6-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9-10 a.m. and Brandon Church of the Nazarene, located at 114 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon, every Saturday from 9-11 a.m. Daystar will also be partnering with the Brandon-based nonprofit Cynthia Pinckney Ministries – which also aids residents facing hard times. The facility also expects to begin a GED program, in January. “I feel God is directing us, and this is the right thing to do,” said Ecumenical Ministries, Inc. President Vince Ferraro.The newly formed council welcomes others to volunteer at the cafe, with the group’s next meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 7, at 10 a.m. at Daystar Faith Center, located at 7017 Gibsonton Dr. in Gibsonton. According to Baylife member Christine Hicks, residents can also help by filling their tanks with 10 gallons or more of gas at area Citgo gas stations which, in return, provide customers with a $3 pre-paid phone card which can be donated to homeless residents.For more information, visit www.iamhopecafe.org or call 643-0323.

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Carisa is a Senior News Reporter and Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer. When she's not at work, she continues to write, working on future projects; hangs out with friends and family, her best friend (aka her husband) and her four dogs.