In cooperation with the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League (SHAL), St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen will begin a test of changing the serving area for homeless to the Keys Overnight Homeless Shelter. The Saturday and Sunday only test will begin in August, with staff from the Soup Kitchen bringing and serving food prepared at the current location on Flagler Avenue to the Shelter, behind the Stock Island Sheriff’s Office on College Road.
SHAL management believes the additional service may encourage unsheltered homeless persons to utilize the Shelter and enroll in the growing list of services that SHAL has added, including health care, employment services, financial education, AA meetings, a housing first program, enhanced relocation options and more, all designed to move homeless residents of Monroe County into permanent housing and self-support.
Shelter hours will not change, and food will be served only to homeless persons who stay at the Shelter. SHAL has improved security, cleanliness and comfort at the Shelter, helping to prepare homeless persons for self-sufficiency. The Shelter recently started serving a simple breakfast most mornings to clients, using the example of a growing number of churches and other groups that have brought a morning meal to help homeless get ready for a more sustainable lifestyle. “You can’t get out of being homeless if you’re tired, hungry or sick,” said John Miller, Executive Director of SHAL. “We’re very pleased to be working more closely with the Soup Kitchen to better address our community’s response to the homeless problem.”