Community Solutions, partnered with the Greater Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce will host an overnight event called One Hopeful Night. The purpose of the event is to allow participants to experience what it’s like to be homeless for a night while raising awareness and funds for a new resource center for the homeless opening next year.
“What we’re doing for one night from 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 3rd until 7 a.m. Friday, December 4th. We’re getting to feel what it’s like to be homeless in Okaloosa County. “
Ted Corcoran is President of the FWB Chamber, which is organizing the event, “One Hopeful Night is a fundraiser, an awareness campaign for the One Hopeful Place that is starting in the spring, one stop resource for those who are down on their luck. This community has looked for that for over almost forty years to pick one location where people can go that are down on their luck, homeless if that be the case and all of their needs taken care of.”
Corcoran says One Hopeful Night will be held in a fenced in area on the property of First Baptist Church in Ft. Walton Beach. He says one goals of the event is to recognize that the face of homelessness is a multifaceted issue and is depicted in an array of ways, “The description of homelessness is those that do not have their own home. They may be surfing from couch to couch in various places. They may be sharing homes with their friends; they may be living in their car or they may be truly living on the street. But, what it truly means is that they do have a place to call their own home.“
Participants or “Sleepers” as they’re called will arrive with no more than the clothes on their back. On arrival, they’ll be issued a piece of cardboard to sleep on and they’ll receive dinner courtesy of the Saint Mary Soup Kitchen. And, for the remainder of the evening, participants will “hack it” out in the elements and with each other until sunrise just like the homeless in the county have to do.
Mitch Mongell is CEO of FWB Medical Center and serves as the Chairman of Community Solutions. Echoing Corcoran’s sentiments, Mongell says the number of homeless is our area is staggering and understanding who they are is a key step to finding a solution, “The main event is to focus on who the homeless truly are. The bigger subsets are families. We’re looking around 40-45 % of homeless are families. Over 30% are female, 33% are families with children. That’s just an outstanding number. When we think of homeless I’m not sure those are the faces that are coming to mind.”
One Hopeful night will be held rain or shine and sleepers will be provided with a fire to keep warm. If the temperature dips below 40F then the event will move indoors and participants can experience the feel of a Cold Night Shelter. There is no cost to participate and the event is open to the public.
Again, Mitch Mongell, “It’s not only a fundraiser but it’s truly an event where we hope to educate our public on the mission that Community Solutions is out for to help serve. And, to recognize those other agencies that work so hard to end homelessness in Okaloosa County.”
The all-night event will be followed by breakfast at the Chamber’s First Friday Coffee held at the church’s Life Center. Ted Corcoran says he’s looking forward to participants sharing their experience, “If you want to participate and see what it’s like we’d love to have you. If anything, I’d ask that WUWF listeners say hey, there are some homeless in our community and how can I help. You can experience it that night or you can contact the Chamber, or just put some money aside and perhaps begin to help in the process of donating to this great cause. “
To experience One Hopeful Night sign up at FWBChamber.org or call (850) 244-8191.
Participants may still be able to secure comfort items through contributions and pledges for the event.
Comfort items include:
Sleeping bag/blanket (bring your own for a $50 contribution)
Tarp/cardboard box ($75 contribution)
Sleep in your car ($100 contribution)