A place of Hope: Camillus House

 

Miami – Away from the city buzz and congestions, around 4000 people are experiencing homelessness. Some live under highways, some improvised a sleeping space on the streets away from Miami’s skyscrapers. Some stay in groups, and some wonder on their own with very little belongings. While this is a continuous and critical problem, Camillus House brings hope for those in need.

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Bryan and Elving at Career Center at Camillus House

Camillus House was founded in 1960 as a response to the Cuban refugee crisis. The initial goal was to offer warm meals, and throughout the time it evolved into a multi-campus community for homeless and poor people of Miami that is known today.

Camillus House is a non-profit organization and activates on the belief that “every human being is precious in the eyes of the Lord and deserves love, respect and a chance to live a dignified life.” The community expands over 14 different location throughout the city of Miami and offers services from housing, healthcare to warm meals and yoga classes.

The organization offers three types of housing. The emergency housing is for people that need immediate assistance to get out off the streets. This service is temporary and offers lodging up to 90 days. In the process, the clients are provided with a wide variety of other services and most importantly employment assistance.  The emergency housing is located in the Beckham Hall at 2735 NW 19th Avenue, Miami.

The transitional housing expands over a period of six to 18 months and is more than just a lodging service. To be able to enjoy this program, the clients must hold a stable job and prove that they are making progress on being able to sustain themselves.

The permanent housing “offers a supported living environment to persons who are formerly homeless and have transitioned out of transitional housing, but still require some sort of support in order to maintain their stability.”

Along the housing services, Camillus House provides extensive healthcare services, which includes medical, dental, behavioral health care, and also health education and specialty care.

“We also provide pediatric medical care, women’s health services, podiatry, oral health, dermatology to our clients. If we do not have the treatment for a specific health condition then we redirect our client to Jackson Hospital,” said Alessandra Laricchia, the Community Relations Manager.

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Origami made by a client at Camillus House

Although providing housing and healthcare services is fairly common to other homeless shelters, Camillus House also cares about the clients’ spiritual and mental well-being. The homeless people can enjoy anything from art therapy classes, computer classes to yoga.

“Art therapy is for everyone to come and relax. A lot of people don’t know how to relax, and this is the place to find yourself through art,” said Bryan Person, a Pier Specialist at Camillus House.

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One of the pieces from the Art Therapy class

 

Some of the paintings hung on the walls of the Art Class room were worthy to be exposed in any fine art galleries. As Bryan has mentioned, some of the pieces were being sold at the Camillus House fundraising events.


The clients are encouraged to be engaged in the community’s events and projects, by promoting a healthy and engaging life style. For example, Good Neighbor Project entitles younger and healthy clients and residents to help clean the apartments of the elderly and sick ones. This program offers mutual satisfaction and benefits for the ones involved.

“This is not a community for the homeless and the needy only. If you want to participate in any events and have the time, you are welcomed to join us. Your time is all we need,” said Elving Blanco, a Peer Specialist at Camillus House.

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Bryan and Elving in the computer room

Camillus House also offers an extensive program for volunteers, form the kitchen to special events, or assisting with anything else might be needed. For more information about volunteering, contact Alessandra via email alessandral@camillus.org or cell phone 786.775.8192.

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