A Story of Transformation and Resiliency

Julie Bostick, Florida Resurrection House

Since 1987, Florida Resurrection House (FRH) has served families in Tampa Bay experiencing homelessness. In January 2020, we welcomed a new CEO, Ellen McDonald.

When Ellen took the helm at FRH there were just five families on a campus that can house up to 15. With so many families in need, the immediate priority was to bring the campus to full capacity.

After just two months, in March 2020, COVID changed the landscape. The ability for fundraising and events was put on hold. The FRH team used the time to focus on the program. The cancelled activities allowed time for a re-imagining of FRH’s services, from long-term transitional housing to a self-sufficiency program. The program became trauma-informed care and added social-emotional learning, and therapeutic services all in a two-generation model.

At the same time, the physical property was aging. Built in 2001, and not having been at full capacity, many apartments were in disrepair. Then a major leak in the roof required mold remediation and drywall replacement in eight apartments – and we were forced to buy a new roof.

These challenges aren’t over yet – COVID still rages in Florida – yet the success of this program relies upon the interpersonal activities among the members of our campus community, as well as the partners, volunteers and professionals that care for our participants. We are figuring out a way to safely carry on with services for parents and children.

Since the start of COVID, our participants have celebrated new jobs, graduations, promotions, and one graduate even purchased her first home. Life goes on.

Looking ahead, we are making plans to share our program model with other families off campus so they too can break the cycle of generational poverty. Florida Resurrection House is doing this work like no one else in our community, and we are grateful to be in this space, in this community, giving so much to the families who need us.

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