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  • Eric Gray, Executive Director

Retooling Campuses to Serve Today's Greater Needs of Homelessness

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

The Christian Service Center has undergone several program changes and additions over the decades, from converting one building to a commercial kitchen (Daily Bread), another building for men’s short-term residency and therapy (Fresh Start), to adding a public school food program (Love Pantry), and more. Particularly over the past two years, we have forged new on-site partnerships and are retooling the nearly two acres of our Parramore campus to better address the challenges of modern-day homelessness.

Frankly, we are more than a soup kitchen, more than a food pantry, more than a clothing resource. We offer multiple services designed to ultimately lead people out of homelessness. However, our Parramore campus has not had major repairs or any modernization to three of our four buildings since 1984. That’s largely because a long-standing city ordinance that prevents existing social service agencies like ours from expanding or relocating within what’s called the Parramore Heritage Overlay.

We converted a dusty storage room upstairs into a chapel now being used twice a week for Bible study.

The Orlando City Council plans to vote this Summer to change the ordinance to allow established agencies and shelters limited expansion on their current property. The amendment to the ordinance would allow for modernization to proceed after a review by city planning and zoning and as long as it doesn't add more than 10% to the square footage of existing buildings. While we are not planning to expand our square footage, our plans will ultimately put us in a better position to significantly reduce the number of people experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness.

Orange Blossom Family Health’s Mobile Medical Care trailer provides testing and wound care on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

During our evolution to become Orlando’s truly Comprehensive Day Services Center, a literal “front door” for housing, hiring (income), and health care, people who are not familiar with this concept may not be able to envision what’s happening on our property. These days, we often hear different terms to describe our campus such as a “drop-in center” or “daytime shelter.” Either way, we have created a safe and welcoming space during daylight for our visitors in need. A place where guests are treated with dignity and staff know them by their name. Relationships get made, practical plans are put in place, and the once nameless and unsheltered become confident, self-sufficient, and housed!

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